Published January 22, 2009
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, comparing his plight to the persecution of rogue cowboys in old Westerns, said Friday that the state Senate is trampling on his constitutional rights as it prepares for his impeachment trial.
A day earlier, in an interview, he said his arrest last month was like the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Blagojevich plans to boycott next week's trial and on Friday railed against two rules he said are preventing him from anticipating a fair shake. He complained that he is not being allowed to call the witnesses he wants or to challenge the charges against him in the state House report on his impeachment.
On Friday, FOX News learned Blagojevich's attorney Ed Genson will no longer represent him, and said that his client doesn't listen to him. Attorney Sheldon Sorosky will stay on as Blagojevich's attorney, but it's unclear whether he will be the lead attorney in the criminal trial.
Blagojevich, who is accused of trying to sell President Obama's former U.S. Senate seat and engaging in other pay-to-play schemes, said he was being denied a presumption of innocence. He said his fellow Democrats want him out of office so they can raise income taxes.
"If they can do this to a governor, they can do this to any citizen in Illinois," Blagojevich said.
The governor, who has shown a dramatic flair at past press conferences, likened his case to an old Western in which cowboys accused of stealing a horse are given a trial before they're hanged.
"Under these rules, I'm not even getting a fair trial. They're just hanging me," he said.
In an interview Thursday with The Associated Press, Blagojevich also compared his early morning arrest by FBI agents last month to Japan's 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.
He said it was a "complete surprise," but he'll prevail, just like America in World War II.
Blagojevich said Friday that he wanted to call White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett and Illinois Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. as witnesses. He called for Illinois newspapers to publish editorials demanding the Senate change its trial rules.
But the governor twisted facts or exaggerated to support his version of events. He has repeatedly said he wouldn't be allowed to call witnesses in the Senate trial, but that's not correct. Trial rules prohibit witnesses that federal prosecutors feel would interfere with their criminal case, but Blagojevich could have called other people.
He has specifically mentioned wanting to call governors and senators to testify about all the good he's done. Nothing in Senate rules would have barred those witnesses. Blagojevich never asked to have them testify.
He said he will fight the allegations against him "to the very end" and there's no chance he will resign before the start of his trial next week.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.