Blagojevich to speak at his impeachment trial

January 29, 2009|By Ray Long and Rick Pearson | Ray Long and Rick Pearson,Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO -

Gov. Rod Blagojevich will go to Springfield, Ill., to make the closing argument in his impeachment trial today, state Senate President John Cullerton said yesterday.

Blagojevich, who has boycotted the impeachment trial, will not take questions from senators, Cullerton said.

Cullerton told the Senate the news as he was going over scheduling. The Senate had been expecting final witnesses yesterday and a single closing argument this morning from House prosecutor David Ellis. Now, they expect the governor to appear in front of the Senate. Under the trial rules, he first has to ask for permission to speak. It's a motion the Senate is expected to approve.

"I've been informed that the governor would like to come here [Thursday] and [ask] leave of us to file an appearance," Cullerton told the Senate. "We would have to give him permission to do that. I would urge us all to give him that leave so he can argue as his own attorney."

Blagojevich spokeswoman Katie Ridgway said that she "can confirm the governor will be down in Springfield to speak before the Senate" to make the closing argument.

The announcement came several hours after Cullerton challenged Blagojevich to stop giving national television interviews and to take questions directly from lawmakers at his impeachment trial.

"If he wants to come down here instead of hiding out in New York and having Larry King asking questions instead of the senators, I think he's making a mistake," Cullerton said outside Senate chambers.

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