Sam on Blago: Where's the Evidence?

The following is a commentary by ABC News' Sam Donaldson. Click here to view a video version of his latest essay.

The latest developments in the Gov. Rod Blagojevich saga out of Illinois have apparently angered a lot of people, particularly in Illinois.

You say, "Yes, what Blagojevich allegedly tried to do in shopping around President-elect Obama's Senate seat is simply outrageous and that man should be thrown out of office forthwith." I agree the allegations are outrageous, but I do not agree he should be thrown out of office, forthwith.

The Illinois Supreme Court has now refused the state attorney general's request to remove the governor from office and refused to strip him of his powers including the power to appoint a new senator if he is rash enough to attempt that. The court said the legislature, which has begun an impeachment investigation, is the proper body to consider removing a government official duly elected by the people, not the courts.

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Right. Were it otherwise, what public official at any level would not be at risk at the whim of a handful of unelected judges?

And, as far as the impeachment investigation is concerned, it got off to a rocky start when the governor's aggressive lawyer told the committee that it was a "witch hunt," arguing it is unfair to put in hearsay, unfair to put in anonymous people, unfair to deprive him of confrontation.

After all, Blagojevich has not yet even been indicted, though he certainly may be. As far as the criminal complaint goes -- heavy on allegations, light on evidence -- many defense lawyers point out that merely talking about committing a crime (selling a Senate seat, for example) may not be prosecutable without evidence that specific acts were taken in furtherance of such an intent. The evidence may exist but the public and the legislators haven't seen it yet.

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If Blagojevich has done all the things the U.S attorney says he has, he should be removed and if found guilty in a court of law of crimes he should become the fourth Illinois governor in modern times to be jailed. But just as it has been wrong in recent years for this country to throw due process and the rule of law overboard in the name of combating terror, it would be wrong to throw it overboard in the name of quickly ridding Illinois of an alleged corrupt governor.

Our system of justice is slow and messy.

Thank goodness.

Sam Donaldson, a 41-year ABC News veteran, served two appointments as chief White House correspondent for ABC News, from 1977-1989 and from January 1998 to August 1999, covering Presidents Carter, Reagan and Clinton. Donaldson also co-anchored, with Diane Sawyer, "PrimeTime Live," from August 1989 until it merged with "20/20" in 1999. He co-anchored the ABC News Sunday morning broadcast, "This Week With Sam Donaldson & Cokie Roberts," from December 1996 to September 2002. Currently, Donaldson appears on ABC News Now, the ABC News digital network, in a daily show called "Politics Live."

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