After Impeachment, Blagojevich's Fate Lies with Illinois Senate
After being impeached Friday, Gov. Rod Blagojevich now faces an uphill battle in the Illinois Senate trial that will determine whether he stays in office or gets ousted, foxnews reported.
The Illinois House overwhelmingly voted to impeach Blagojevich, 114-1, handing the process off to the Senate, which will place Blagojevich on trial, a first for any Illinois governor.
The trial is set to begin Jan. 26. If Blagojevich loses, he stands little chance of getting the verdict overturned by the courts, which traditionally shy away from tinkering with impeachment processes.
While the trial will feature the familiar sights and sounds of a courtroom, from a judge to exhibits to objections, experts say the event will be political, not legal. The senators can base their decisions on old feuds and popular opinion if they want, rather than the fine points of the law.
Yet the Democratic governor will be held to a stricter standard than the senators, as some of the charges against him involve very technical points.
"I have a piece of advice for him," Democratic strategist and FOX News contributor Bob Beckel said. "I would resign, plead insanity and collect disability."
But a defiant Blagojevich has vowed to fight his impeachment to the very end. He dismissed the impeachment as a foregone conclusion from a House that has resisted efforts to help real people.
"The causes of the impeachment are because I've done things to fight for families," Blagojevich said Friday at a news conference in which he stood alongside a handful of supporters -- including a man in a wheelchair and a liver transplant recipient -- who have benefited from health programs Blagojevich established.
Blagojevich hasn't been convicted of a crime, but House members said that doesn't stop them from acting on the evidence they have, particularly since some of the impeachment charges don't involve criminal matters.
The state constitution doesn't lay out a standard for conviction, other than that senators must "do justice according to law." The chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court will preside.
It would take a two-thirds majority of the Senate's 59 members to convict Blagojevich.
Lt. Gov. Patrick Quinn, who would become governor if Blagojevich is ousted, said he had hoped Blagojevich would resign after being impeached. Since the governor hasn't, Quinn said, it's now up to the Senate to act with "solemn responsibility."
Even in a state that is used to political scandal, the one swirling around Blagojevich was stunning, prompting U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to say that the governor's actions "would make Lincoln roll over in his grave."
Blagojevich is the latest Illinois governor to be embroiled in scandal. His immediate predecessor, George Ryan, is serving time in prison now, and two earlier governors also went to prison.
"We're beginning to think that every person elected governor of Illinois gets two terms, the first one they're elected to," former Ohio Rep. John Kasich told FOX News.
Blagojevich is the first governor in the country to be impeached since 1988, when Arizona Gov. Evan Mecham was removed from office. The closest to come to impeachment since then was Connecticut Gov. John Rowland, who resigned in 2004 in the midst of impeachment hearings.