Ill. House speaker launches impeachment process

December 15, 2008 7:24:38 PM PST
Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan took the first step toward the impeachment of the governor Monday. He has appointed a special committee to review the federal corruption charges filed against Blagojevich and recommend whether he should be impeached.PRESS CONFERENCE VIDEO: Watch speaker of the Illinois House Michael Madigan's press conference as he announces he is taking the first step toward impeaching embattled Gov. Blagojevich. (Part 2)

Madigan did not express an opinion on whether Blagojevich should be impeached or resign since he would preside over any impeachment debate. But he did say he's not surprised by the allegations.

"I've had a chance to get to know Mr. Blagojevich over six years, so I was not surprised," Madigan said Monday of the federal allegations. "In light of what we've all seen ... how can anyone be surprised?"

Here's what will happen next: The committee will review the charges that includes the alleged scheme by the governor to profit from the selection of President-elect Barack Obama's replacement in the US Senate. After reviewing the charges the committee will come up with a recommendation on impeachment. Then the full House would formally decide whether to file impeachment charges against the governor. The Senate would ultimately rule on them. Madigan says the committee will work everyday except holidays.

Also Monday, an internal review by the presidential transudation team show aides to the president-elect had no inappropriate discussions with the governor or any staff members about a replacement for the Senate seat. Prosecutors have asked Obama's office to delay the release of that review until next week.

The Chicago Tribune is reporting that Blagojevich has officially hired Ed Genson as his criminal defense attorney. Blagojevich would not confirm or deny that when asked by ABC7 Monday. For a third day in a row the governor met in the Loop offices of what is now being reported as his new criminal defense attorney. Monday morning Genson admitted the case against Blagojevich is going to be a fight, but not Mission: Impossible.

"The case that I've seen so far is significantly exaggerated. It's not what people think it is," Genson said.

Meantime, Monday morning, it was just another day in the alley. Blagojevich helped his wife and kids with a big red suitcase into the car before heading off for a job at the Thompson Center. The governor signed the bill giving the film industry a tax break for making movies in Illinois and the governor's spokesperson said Blagojevich is well aware of the action taken in Springfield to begin the impeachment process.

"The committee has to still make their recommendation. I mean, the recommendation, when that comes, then we'll probably have more to say on that," said Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, (D) House Majority Leader.

"What about saying something to the public? Since his arrest last week, the governor has only waved or yelled out a 'good morning,' " said Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, (D) House Majority Leader.

"The governor indicated he wants to speak. Now may not be the time to say it," said Rep. Art Turner, (D) Chicago.

Though there are no immediate plans to resign, so far Blagojevich's staff remains intact as well, at least for now.

"It's a trying time for the staff. No one's dealt with anything like this before, so there's a lot of stress. A lot of people are concerned about their personal futures. But everybody remembers and realizes that we have 12 million people to work for, not just one. So they're trying to stay professional and focus on the day-to-day operations," Turner said.


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