Hours after the Illinois House of Representatives voted 114-1 to impeach Gov. Rod Blagojevich on corruption charges that include his allegedly trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama, the governor reiterated Friday, "I am not guilty of any criminal wrongdoing."
"I am confident that at the end of the day, I will be properly exonerated," Blagojevich said at a rambling press conference which ended, as had his first news conference following his Dec. 9 arrest, with his quoting a British poet.
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Blagojevich added that the full House vote was "not a surprise" because, "What the House did today they've been talking about doing for the last couple of years."
He was joined onstage at his news conference by a man in a wheelchair and various other individuals he claimed were helped by his policies, and he blamed the Illinois House for repeatedly standing in the way of his bringing advances to the people of Illinois. He referenced various efforts to extend health care only to be blocked, he said, by a House chamber that "consistently stood in the way of those expansions."
After quoting Rudyard Kipling at an earlier press conference, the governor this time drew from Alfred Lord Tennyson's "Ulysses," reciting, "Though we are not now the strength which in old days moved Earth and Heaven, that which we are, we are. One equal temper, of heroic hearts, made weak by time and by fate, but strong in will, to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."
But in a statement following the impeachment vote, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan once again called upon Blagojevich to yield.
"Gov. Blagojevich has harmed the people of this state, and by refusing to recognize his utter inability to govern effectively, he continues this harm," she said. "I call on the governor, once again, to do what is right, what is best for the people and what is clearly long overdue: The governor should resign immediately."
The article of impeachment -- essentially an indictment -- now goes to the state Senate for a trial, which requires a two-thirds vote to convict Blagojevich and remove him from office. The trial will be presided over by the chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court and could begin as early as Jan. 26.
In the state Senate trial, impeachment managers and Blagojevich will have the opportunity to present witnesses and evidence.
If convicted by the Illinois Senate, Blagojevich would be removed from office and Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn would become acting governor.
The vote to impeach the embattled governor is a dramatic development in an unprecedented chain of events triggered by his Dec. 9 arrest.
The vote came one day after an Illinois House committee investigating Blagojevich unanimously recommended that the full House impeach him for "abuse of power."
The committee cited a litany of corruption allegations, including the attempted sale of Obama's empty Senate seat, extortion of Children's Memorial Hospital, extortion of the Chicago Tribune and various other pay-to-play schemes.
In the panel's draft report released Thursday morning, state lawmakers investigating the governor concluded, "The Special Investigative Committee for the Illinois House of Representatives, 95th General Assembly finds that the totality of the evidence warrants the impeachment of the governor for cause.