Published January 26, 2009
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Monday called the state Senate's impeachment proceedings against him a "kangaroo court," telling FOX News' Geraldo Rivera that "What's happening to me is unimaginable."
Blagojevich called on Illinois lawmakers to allow him to call witnesses to clear him of any wrongdoing.
In his first cable news interview since his arrest last November for allegedly trying to sell President Obama's U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder, Blagojevich hammered away at the process that could remove him from office.
"It's a kangaroo court...when they are basing an impeachment on a criminal allegation that their rules don't allow them to prove up, and they even worse than that don't allow me to disprove by preventing me from calling witnesses, then my lawyers and I believe that to be part of a process like that is to dignify a fraudulent impeachment process that sets a dangerous precedent for governors in Illinois and governors across America," he said.
Blagojevich said he is asking the state Senate to allow him to bring witnesses to show he did nothing unlawful.
"All I'm asking the state Senate to do is allow me to bring witnesses and bring evidence to show I did nothing wrong, and if they're going to say I did something wrong, then the least they should do is prove it up," he said.
The Illinois governor also emphasized White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's statement last week that the two men never discussed anything inappropriate in regard to Obama's vacant Senate seat.
"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.
When asked whom Emanuel wanted him to name to replace Obama in the U.S. Senate, Blagojevich declined to answer, saying, "those are private conversations."
"There were discussions...that was for real," he said.
Blagojevich added that his conversations over the Senate seat were taken "out of their proper context."
"There's embarrassment there, obviously, in private conversations. I would like every one of those tapes to be presented to the Illinois state senate, every one of them, and let them hear every one of those conversations, and see what those conversations -- what they were, where they were going and where they ended up."
Blagojevich spoke as the Illinois Senate convened an impeachment trial to decide whether he should be removed from office.
Chief Justice Thomas Fitzgerald began the trial by reminding senators they face "a solemn and serious business."
Senators were considering charges that the Democratic governor tried to sell Obama's Senate seat, that he used his authority to pressure campaign contributors and that he defied legislative decisions.