Blagojevich Tells Illinois Senate Allegations Not Enough to Oust Him

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, possibly only hours away from being thrown out of office, made an impassioned plea for his political life Thursday on the floor of the state Senate.

Giving a closing argument at his impeachment trial, Blagojevich insisted that he's innocent and that throwing him out of office would set a dangerous precedent, because the charges against him are based on insufficient evidence. 

"How can you throw a governor out of office, and you haven't been able to show or prove any criminal wrongdoing?" he said. "How can you throw a governor out of office who is clamoring and begging to bring witnesses in?" he continued.

"I'm appealing to you and your sense of fairness." 

But impeachment prosecutor David Ellis called Blagojevich a "stain on this state" in his rebuttal to the governor's closing statement.

"He doesn't think one minute about the people, just himself," Ellis said.

"He has a Constitutional right not to be thrown in jail without a fair trial," he continued. "But he does not have a Constitutional right to be governor. That is a privilege and he forfeited that privilege. He has abused the power of his office."

Federal prosecutors arrested Blagojevich in December and accused him of scheming to sell President Obama's U.S. Senate seat for campaign cash or a plum job for himself. The allegations came in a complaint; he has still not been indicted. 

Blagojevich reminded the state Senate that no criminal wrongdoing has been proven, and he repeatedly begged for a chance to call witnesses, such as White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who he said would testify that nothing illegal or unethical transpired.  

The Democratic governor presented himself as a fighter for the average citizen, and he acknowledged that he may have made political enemies with his hard charging style. But that shouldn't be the reason for his removal, he said.

"I confess I push too hard and fight too hard," he said. "But remember, it ain't about me. It's about the people."

Blagojevich cited his humble background as the son of hardworking immigrants as the motivation behind his rise to the top office in Illinois and his desire to extend a helping hand to the less fortunate.

"How can you impeach me for legal means with moral ends?" he said. "There is no evidence before your body that shows any wrongdoing by your governor."

Blagojevich deviated from his central argument at times, injecting personal anecdotes that were reminiscent of the poetry and other non sequiturs that he cited on his media tour earlier this week, while the Senate held its trial against him.

But his main line of defense was similar to statements he's made since his arrest: that he is being persecuted for his good works that help senior citizens and children and that the evidence against him is not sufficient.

The governor told senators that an FBI agent reading the allegations to lawmakers -- as happened this week -- does not amount to proving the charges.

Blagojevich did not testify, which would have involved taking an oath and answering questions from the prosecutor and senators. Instead, he delivered a closing statement that was designed to be "passionate."

It was a last-ditch attempt by Blagojevich to keep his job just hours before a possible vote to remove him from office. Blagojevich worked past midnight Thursday morning on his speech,his public relations firm said Thursday. 

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Upon his arrival at the state Capitol in Springfield, Blagojevich said he was philosophical about his circumstances but acknowledged there's a feeling of sadness about what could be his final time walking into the building as governor.

Blagojevich arrived as impeachment prosecutor David Ellis was giving his closing statement on the Senate floor.

Ellis said the evidence shows "a pattern of abuse of power" by Blagojevich, who knew his conduct was improper.

Ellis cited snippets of secretly recorded conversations that federal prosecutors released when they arrested Blagojevich last month. He said they show Blagojevich based all his decisions on what was best for him personally, politically and legally.

Blagojevich, who was on a media blitz in New York City while the trial in the Illinois Senate carried on, has asserted his innocence and rejected numerous calls to resign. 

After just three days of testimony, the prosecution has rested; the Senate could vote on whether to remove Blagojevich Thursday afternoon.  

A conviction appears certain. Blagojevich presented no defense, and virtually the entire Illinois political establishment has turned against him. The House voted 117-1 to impeach him, and the lone "no" vote came from his sister-in-law. 

Blagojevich told FOX News even he anticipates that outcome. 

"I think the fix is in. I think they have made the decision because they have rules," he said. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.