Illinois House Votes to Impeach Blagojevich

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.

Watch "World News With Charles Gibson" Tonight at 6:30 p.m. ET for the full report.

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."

Impeachment Process

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.

"The committee, therefore, recommends that the House consider an Article of Impeachment against the governor."

The governor's office Thursday night called the panel's vote "a foregone conclusion" that was "flawed, biased and did not follow the rules of law."

State Supreme Court Says White's Signature Not Required on Gov.'s Appointment

On Friday, the Illinois Supreme Court also made a decision in the complex legal efforts to fill Obama's former Senate seat, ruling that Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White is not required by law to sign a certificate certifying Blagojevich's appointment to the position.

The drama surrounding Blagojevich escalated when he tapped former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris to fill the seat just after Christmas, in the midst of the scandal.

Burris was denied the right to be seated in the Senate Tuesday because Democrats said he lacked White's signature on his appointment certificate.

With its decision Friday, the state Supreme Court put the onus back on the Senate to decide whether to seat Burris.

"Today the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that the secretary of state's signature is not needed to validate my appointment to the U.S. Senate by the governor," Burris said today in a statement. "I am very happy that the Supreme Court ruled supporting our argument that everything surrounding this appointment was legal and complete."

He added, "I am confident I have cooperated with all the requests of the U.S. Senate, and I expect they will validate my credentials and seat me in a timely manner."

White, along with Madigan, had made the argument in writing to the state Supreme Court that White's signature was not required by law but only recommended by a Senate rule.

"The secretary has performed all of his legal duties and the ultimate determination whether to seat petitioner Burris lies with the U.S. Senate," the filing stated. "That, too, is where the petitioners' remedy lies."

"It is clear that Secretary White is not the roadblock to Mr. Burris' appointment to the U.S. Senate," Madigan said in a Friday statement. "It remains within the power of the U.S. Senate to seat Mr. Burris. They should do so immediately."

Election law attorneys have said that senators may not have the constitutional power to refuse to admit Burris into the Senate without some indication that his appointment was corrupt.

Despite being denied entry to the Senate floor Tuesday, on Wednesday Burris saw his prospects looking up after meeting with Senate Democratic leaders.

"Roland Burris to me appears to be candid and forthright. ... He is not trying to avoid any responsibility or hide anything. ... We don't have a problem with him as an individual," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. "[But] we want to do what we can do to make sure that everything that has been done in the Blagojevich hours is transparent."

A Democratic source also told ABC News that Obama talked to Reid about Burris Monday and urged him to come to "an amicable resolution" with Burris.

On Thursday, Burris also told state lawmakers investigating the possible impeachment that he did not act unethically in being appointed to the seat.

"I have been in government for 20 years and never participated in anybody's quid pro quo," Burris said.

Upon being approached to fill the seat amid the allegations involving the governor, Burris said he was "surprised" and took the weekend to think it over and consult with friends before accepting the appointment.

ABC News' Matthew Jaffe and Z. Byron Wolf contributed to this report.

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