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Blagojevich Takes Case to the Airwaves, Says He Considered Naming Oprah Winfrey as Senator

Jan. 26: Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is in New York rather than at his state Senate impeachment trial (AP Photo).

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich ended his sensational New York media tour Monday with an interview with FOX News' Geraldo Rivera in which he called the impeachment proceedings against him a "kangaroo court."  

"What's happening to me is unimaginable," Blagojevich said, after calling on Illinois lawmakers to allow him to call witnesses to clear him of any wrongdoing.

"Rahm Emanuel said on national television about a week or so ago that there was nothing improper in his conversations with me, and that's certainly accurate," he said.

In the Illinois Senate, meanwhile, his impeachment trial began without him.

The governor also had a hair-raising appearance on ABC's "The View" Monday.  

"View" co-host Joy Behar asked Blagojevich to do his "fantastic Nixon impression" -- a reference to former President Richard Nixon, who resigned from office in 1974 before facing impeachment for his role in the Watergate scandal.  Behar asked the governor to impersonate Nixon by saying, "I'm not a crook." 

When Blagojevich said he is innocent of all wrongdoing and declined to act out the impression, Behar proceeded to tussle the governor's hair.

"I'm an innocent man.  For me to resign would be to admit I did something wrong, which I did not do," Blagojevich said.  

The governor, accused of trying to sell President Obama's U.S. Senate seat in an alleged pay-for-play scheme, took his defense to television rather than to the state legislature, lashing out at his accusers and saying that he had considered naming Oprah Winfrey to Obama's vacated seat.  

The governor told ABC's "Good Morning America" that the idea of nominating the talk show host came to him as he explored potential candidates for the job.

"She seemed to be someone who would help Barack Obama in a significant way become president," he said. "She was obviously someone with a much broader bully pulpit than other senators."

The governor worried, though, that the appointment of Winfrey might come across as a gimmick and that the talk show host was unlikely to accept.

Winfrey told long-time friend and radio talk show host Gayle King Monday that she was surprised to hear she had been considered for the seat.

"If I had been watching as I -- as I watch from the treadmill -- I'd probably fallen off the treadmill," Winfrey told King on King's Sirius satellite radio program.

"I didn't know till the Gayle King show called and told me," Winfrey said.

She added that she was "pretty amused by the whole thing," though she said, "I think I can be senator too, I'm just not interested."

Blagojevich ultimately appointed former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris to the vacant seat.

The revelation that Winfrey was considered came just hours before Blagojevich's impeachment trial was set to get under way in Springfield. The Democratic governor is refusing to take part, arguing that the rules are so biased that he can't possibly get a fair hearing.

In addition to the appearances on ABC, Blagojevich also was scheduled to appear on "The View" and "Larry King Live." An interview he did with NBC's "Today" show also aired Monday morning.

Blagojevich is accused of abusing his power by scheming to benefit from a Senate appointment, circumventing hiring laws and defying decisions by the General Assembly.

He reiterated his innocence on Monday, telling ABC that "I did nothing wrong. And if I did something wrong, I would have resigned."

He called his impeachment trial unconstitutional, saying it "denies me the right to call witnesses to defend myself." At another point he said: "Whatever happened to the presumption of innocence?"

Concerning federal wiretaps in which Blagojevich is accused of talking about selling or trading a U.S. Senate appointment, the governor said his comments were snippets of conversations that were "completely out of context."

"When the whole story comes out, you'll see that the effort was to work to have a senator who can best represent Illinois and one that can help us create jobs and provide health care," Blagojevich said.

His Dec. 9 arrest was the final straw for lawmakers, who had spent six years butting heads with the governor. The House quickly voted 114-1 to impeach him, sending the case to the Senate, where it will take a two-thirds majority to convict him and throw him out of office.

If convicted, he will be replaced by Lt. Gov. Patrick Quinn.

In recent days, Blagojevich has said his arrest was reminiscent of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and he compared himself to the hero of a Frank Capra movie and a cowboy being lynched for a crime he didn't commit. He said that when he was arrested on federal corruption charges, he took solace from thinking of other jailed leaders -- Nelson Mandela, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.