Blagojevich is not going to leave voluntarily. Despite two new campaign buttons.
Now that the circus in New York seems to have been resolved, the continuing circus in Illinois — the impeachment trial of Gov. Rod Blagojevich — is expected to move on to a new phase on Monday.
And that leads to this question from James McKinstra of Freeport, Ill.:
Do you know if the general public will be allowed to attend and observe the Blago impeachment trial?
I didn't know the answer, so I turned to NPR's David Schaper, who has been following the fun.
I was just looking over the rules as I prepare to cover the trial, so here is the rule regarding the openness of the trial:
Rule 23. Sessions; open or closed.
(a) At all times while the Senate is sitting upon the trial of an impeachment, the doors of the Senate and the Senate galleries shall be kept open, unless the Senate directs the doors to be closed while deliberating upon its decisions. A motion to close the doors may be made by any member of the Senate, and the motion shall be deemed granted only if sustained by two-thirds of those elected to the Senate by record vote.
(b) By granting a motion under subsection (a), the Senate finds that it is in the public interest for the Senate, as provided in Section 5(c) of Article IV of the Constitution, to conduct deliberations and debate on impeachment matters in closed session.
I would expect most if not all of the impeachment trial, including deliberations, will be open to the public.
There is a gallery for the general public to view all the action on the floor of the Illinois Senate, but there may be space limitations. I believe the trial will be broadcast online, and can be viewed through the Illinois General Assembly's web site: www.ilga.gov
A Delay? Samuel Adam, Blagojevich's new attorney, is considering a lawsuit to halt the trial, calling the Senate rules "completely unfair." And the governor himself said he had no intention of mounting a defense if the rules don't change. In light of the overwhelming vote in the state House to impeach Blago, it is unlikely that the Senate vote to convict will be much different. Pat Quinn is expected to be the next governor of Illinois sometime in February.
That Explains It. In an interview this morning on WLS radio, Blagojevich said the reason Illinois lawmakers are anxious to get rid of him is so they can go ahead and raise taxes once he's gone.
Rod And Reel. He's not going to go willingly, but nonetheless a group called "Rod Must Resign" has been holding demonstrations in Chicago in the past couple of weeks calling for the gov to leave. Spokesman Phil Molfese said, "We believe that the governor can no longer lead our state, because he has lost the trust of the people he was elected to represent. His effectiveness as an elected official has been compromised beyond all repair." Scott Cohen, a local businessman who founded the group, said, ""Blagojevich has been asked by President Obama and Senator Durbin. Now, he's being asked by the voters, the people who put him in office, to resign." The group has the buttons to show for it. And that's good enough for us.