|Daily Impeachment News:
January 30, 2009
By Kari Lydersen and Peter Slevin, Washington Post, SPRINGFIELD, Ill. Jan. 29 – The state senators stood up one by one in a hushed chamber on Thursday to call Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) a liar and a hypocrite who put his ego and his pocketbook ahead of the interests of Illinois.
One called him “devious, cynical, crass and corrupt.” Another said the evidence of abuse of power was “overwhelming.” A third said he was “without a doubt unfit to govern.”
Together, they voted 59 to 0 to reject Blagojevich’s theatrical last-minute pleas and remove him from office, ending a stormy tenure that left the nation’s fifth-largest state paralyzed by its governor’s alleged misdeeds and nationally ridiculed for its latest bout of corruption.
“I believe our state must enter rehab,” Sen. Randall Hultgren (R) told his colleagues before the vote. “Moral rehabilitation.”
Blagojevich’s repudiation in a state where he was elected twice to the governorship and three times to Congress could mark a dramatic exit from the national stage, which he commanded briefly but memorably. His next battle is expected to come in federal court in Chicago, where he risks losing his freedom over allegations that he schemed to trade official actions for political contributions and other favors.
Blagojevich, charged with wire fraud and bribery, is free on $4,500 bond.
Before Thursday’s speechmaking was over, and a pair of unanimous votes were cast to oust Blagojevich and bar him from Illinois public office for life, the governor had already taken his final flight home to Chicago aboard a state airplane. After he arrived, on a darkening winter afternoon, as his fate was about to be sealed, he went for a jog.
Talking with reporters later, he called the verdict “un-American.”
“The fix was in from the beginning,” Blagojevich said, insisting that he wants no pity.
“There are tens of thousands of people across America just like me who are losing their jobs, or who have lost their jobs,” Blagojevich said. “To the people of Illinois, God bless all of you. I want you to know that I haven’t let you down.”
Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn became the state’s 41st governor and said he would move right away into the Italianate red-brick governor’s mansion that Blagojevich disdained. Quinn supported Blagojevich during their reelection on the Democratic ticket in 2006, but the men have not spoken since August 2007.
“The rule of law prevailed in Illinois. We are ready to move forward,” Quinn said after the vote. “Something I’m going to work on night and day is to ask folks to put aside differences of the past and really focus on the common good. We’re going to make this a year of reform in Illinois.”
January 28, 2009
International Herald Tribune – Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich will leave Chicago as a governor Thursday morning. He may come home just an average citizen.
Blagojevich plans to fly to Springfield and address the Senate before the final vote in his impeachment trial. Even Blagojevich predicts he’ll be convicted, costing him his job and all the perks of being governor.
“I hope he has a ride home because I don’t think he’ll have the state police to take him,” joked Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, R-Lemont.
A buzz swept through the Senate chambers Wednesday when Senate President John Cullerton announced that Blagojevich wanted to speak at the trial, which he has boycotted so far.
“It’s my understanding that the governor wishes to file an appearance to give a closing argument, not to testify or to submit himself to cross-examination,” Cullerton, D-Chicago, announced. “Just to give a closing argument.”
Today in Americas
U.S. House passes $819 billion stimulus package
Another death in U.S. immigration custody, and questions mount
Illinois governor asks to speak at impeachment trial
The prosecution rested its case Wednesday, the third day of an unprecedented trial on whether Blagojevich has abused his power.
A conviction is all but 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.
Despite the slim odds Blagojevich faces, one of his few friends in the Senate scoffed at the idea of the governor using the statement to announce his resignation. It’s just as likely senators will see the Easter Bunny hopping through the Capitol, said Sen. James DeLeo, D-Chicago.
“I think he wants to be heard,” DeLeo said.
A Blagojevich spokesman agreed.
“I don’t think he’s going down there to resign, I think he’s going down to make his appeal to the senators,” Lucio Guerrero said.
Blagojevich repeatedly has said he won’t resign. But he also said he wouldn’t take part in the trial.
While the Senate has considered accusations that Blagojevich is corrupt, the governor appeared on one news show after another to proclaim his innocence and declare the trial rigged against him.
“It’s a kangaroo court,” Blagojevich said Tuesday on Fox News Channel. “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.”
But Wednesday afternoon, Blagojevich’s acting chief of staff contacted Cullerton’s chief of staff to ask that the governor be allowed to make a statement before the trial concludes.
The impeachment prosecutor called his last witness Wednesday and is scheduled to make his closing arguments Thursday morning. Blagojevich could be ousted from office by afternoon.
By making his own closing statement instead of testifying under oath, Blagojevich avoids taking questions from senators and the impeachment prosecutor.
Sen. Dan Cronin, R-Elmhurst, called it “cowardly, but consistent with the way he has governed.”
Cullerton, joined by the Senate’s top Republican, recommended Blagojevich’s unusual request be granted. He said the governor would be given 90 minutes to make a closing statement — in effect, acting as his own attorney.
Ironically, Blagojevich often has talked about how poorly he did in law school, joking that he barely knew where the law library was.
The two-term governor has denied any wrongdoing since being arrested last month on a variety of corruption charges, including scheming to benefit from appointing President Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate replacement and demanding campaign contributions in exchange for state services.
No other Illinois governor has been impeached, let alone convicted in a Senate trial.
If Blagojevich is convicted, he will be removed from office and replaced by Lt. Gov. Patrick Quinn, a fellow Democrat.
Earlier Wednesday, Cullerton challenged Blagojevich to show up and explain himself and objected to the governor’s tour of national media. Blagojevich insists the wiretapped conversations released when he was arrested on federal corruption charges are being taken out of context.
“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. “He should come here and answer the questions and provide the context he claims that these statements are being taken out of.”
The case against Blagojevich, presented by House-appointed prosecutor David Ellis, included audio of secretly recorded conversations in which the governor appears to discuss demanding a campaign contribution in exchange for signing legislation. Senators also heard from an FBI agent who vouched for the accuracy of eye-popping Blagojevich quotes that were included in the criminal complaint against him.
And on Wednesday, senators heard testimony that Blagojevich and his aides agreed to pay $2.6 million for doses of a flu vaccine that they knew couldn’t be brought into the country. Auditor General William Holland also testified to a long list of management irregularities under Blagojevich — such as giving a lucrative contract to a company that didn’t officially exist.
April 23, 2008
John Ashcroft Yelled at Me Tonight. No Joke.
Submitted by davidswanson
By Elsinora via Democratic Underground
Knox College is a liberal arts college, in every sense of the word “liberal.” Out of approximately 1400 students, the Knox College Republicans can claim only six members. Although we’re a tiny college, we attract very prestigious Democrats to come speak: Barack Obama, Stephen Colbert, and Bill Clinton were our last three commencement speakers. (This year Madeleine Albright will be commencement speaker.) Not to be outdone, this year the College Republicans managed to raise $15,000 to entice Ashcroft to come speak.
Finally, I got to ask my question about waterboarding–and the result was, of course, the reason for this diary’s title:
ME: First off, Mr. Ashcroft, I’d like to apologize for the rudeness of some of my fellow students. It was uncalled for–we can disagree civilly, we don’t need that. (round of applause from the audience, and Ashcroft smiles) I have here in my hand two documents. One of them, you know, is the text of the United Nations Convention against Torture, which, point of interest, says nothing about “lasting physical damage”…
ASHCROFT: (interrupting) Do you have the Senate reservations to it?
ME: No, I don’t. Do you happen to know what they are?
ASHCROFT: (angrily) I don’t have them memorized, no. I don’t have time to go around memorizing random legal facts. I just don’t want these people in the audience to go away saying, “He was wrong, she had the proof right in her hand!” Because that’s not true. It’s a lie. If you don’t have the reservations, you don’t have anything. Now, if you want to bring them another time, we can talk, but…
ME: Actually, Mr. Ashcroft, my question was about this other document. (laughter and applause) This other document is a section from the judgment of the Tokyo War Tribunal. After WWII, the Tokyo Tribunal was basically the Nuremberg Trials for Japan. Many Japanese leaders were put on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity, including torture. And among the tortures listed was the “water treatment,” which we nowadays call waterboarding…
ASHCROFT: (interrupting) This is a speech, not a question. I don’t mind, but it’s not a question.
ME: It will be, sir, just give me a moment. The judgment describes this water treatment, and I quote, “the victim was bound or otherwise secured in a prone position; and water was forced through his mouth and nostrils into his lungs and stomach.” One man, Yukio Asano, was sentenced to fifteen years hard labor by the allies for waterboarding American troops to obtain information. Since Yukio Asano was trying to get information to help defend his country–exactly what you, Mr. Ashcroft, say is acceptible for Americans to do–do you believe that his sentence was unjust? (boisterous applause and shouts of “Good question!”)
ASHCROFT: (angrily) Now, listen here. You’re comparing apples and oranges, apples and oranges. We don’t do anything like what you described.
ME: I’m sorry, I was under the impression that we still use the method of putting a cloth over someone’s face and pouring water down their throat…
ASHCROFT: (interrupting, red-faced, shouting) Pouring! Pouring! Did you hear what she said? “Putting a cloth over someone’s face and pouring water on them.” That’s not what you said before! Read that again, what you said before!
ME: Sir, other reports of the time say…
ASHCROFT: (shouting) Read what you said before! (cries of “Answer her fucking question!” from the audience) Read it!
ME: (firmly) Mr. Ashcroft, please answer the question.
ASHCROFT: (shouting) Read it back!
ME: “The victim was bound or otherwise secured in a prone position; and water was forced through his mouth and nostrils into his lungs and stomach.”
ASHCROFT: (shouting) You hear that? You hear it? “Forced!” If you can’t tell the difference between forcing and pouring…does this college have an anatomy class? If you can’t tell the difference between forcing and pouring…
ME: (firmly and loudly) Mr. Ashcroft, do you believe that Yukio Asano’s sentence was unjust? Answer the question. (pause)
ASHCROFT: (more restrained) It’s not a fair question; there’s no comparison. Next question! (loud chorus of boos from the audience)
Next Page »
February 8, 2008
ImpeachPac – Congressman Wexler urges support for Cheney Impeachment Hearings
The following members of Congress have joined as signatories to my letter to Chairman Conyers in support of Cheney Impeachment Hearings:
(*= member of the Judiciary Committee)
Baldwin, Tammy, WI, 2nd *
Capuano, Michael E., MA, 8th
Clarke, Yvette D., NY, 11th
Clay, Wm. Lacy, MO, 1st
Cohen, Steve, TN, 9th *
Farr, Sam, CA, 17th
Grijalva, RaÃºl M., AZ, 7th
Gutierrez, Luis V., IL, 4th *
Kucinich, Dennis J., OH, 10th
Lee, Barbara, CA, 9th
Moore, Gwen, WI, 4th
Moran, James P., VA, 8th
Thompson, Mike, CA, 1st
Towns, Edolphus, NY, 10th
Woosley, Lynn, CA, 6th
Wexler, Robert, FL, 19th *
Wynn, Albert Russell, MD, 4th
"I just want you to know that,
when we talk about war, we're really talking about peace."
-Bush, June 18, 2002
"War is Peace"
-Big Brother in George Orwell's 1984