Blagojevich Ousted: Ill. Senate Votes to Remove Him

Blagojevich Has No Apologies

The now-former governor also refused to apologize.

"I want to apologize to you for what happened, but I can't because I didn't do anything wrong," he said, moments later adding, "I'm sorry that we're all in this. I'll apologize for that."

Blagojevich recalled that the night before his arrest, he had gone to sleep feeling "comfortable."

"The next morning your whole world changes, unexpected, unanticipated," he said.

He said that since his arrest, he has been the victim of a "rush to judgment" and an "evisceration of the presumption of innocence."

"The whole world's outside your house," he said, "and before you can even catch your breath, everyone has convicted you."

He said that he was now left in a "painful" position.

"I stand before you in a unique and lonely place. Imagine yourself walking in my shoes," he told the lawmakers.

In a rambling speech, clocking in at just under an hour, Blagojevich argued that if lawmakers impeached him for the reimportation of prescription drugs from Canada, then they should also impeach Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and the governors of Kansas, Wisconsin and Vermont, because they also supported the idea at the time.

Blagojevich said White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel gave him the idea, so lawmakers should demand that President Barack Obama fire Emanuel.

Before Blagojevich addressed the state Senate, prosecutor David Ellis made his closing argument, saying that "the governor has abused the power of the office and put his own interests above the interest of the people."

Ellis concluded, "The people of this state deserve so much better. The governor should be removed from office."

Ellis also played secretly recorded conversations that included Blagojevich.

Blagojevich responded in his closing remarks by noting that "there was never a conversation when I intended to break any law."

Lawmakers were not convinced.

"We must lift this heavy, dark cloud over our state," said state Sen. Dan Rutherford.

Illinois Leaders Pleased With Impeachment

Following Blagojevich's ouster, both Illinois members of the U.S. Senate, including one just appointed by Blagojevich, applauded the impeachment.

"I stand behind the Illinois State Senate's decision today to remove Gov. Blagojevich from office," said Sen. Roland Burris, D-Ill., whom Blagojevich appointed amid controversy to replace Obama on Capitol Hill. "As I've repeatedly stated, the governor must be held accountable for his actions to the legislature, in a court of law and to the people of the state of Illinois.

"Impeachment is about whether our state's best interests are being served having the governor remain in office," Burris added. "Today's conviction speaks loud and clear that there are serious issues preventing him from fulfilling his responsibilities, and I support putting new leadership in place."

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., also supported the governor's departure.

"Today, the Illinois Senate came to the only reasonable conclusion: Blagojevich cannot continue to serve as our governor," Durbin said. "It is now time to close this chapter in Illinois history. The state of Illinois is in need of a fresh start."

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said, "With the Senate's vote today, the destructive tenure of Rod Blagojevich has ended. We can now move forward with the work of the people of the state of Illinois."

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