Gov's atty. challenges impeachment panel

December 17, 2008 4:28:10 PM PST
Rod Blagojevich's attorney called the case against the governor 'a real witch hunt' at a House committee hearing on possible impeachment. Attorney Ed Genson told the panel there was no evidence to back up claims that Blagojevich demanded kickbacks in exchange for a Senate appointment. He dismissed the secretly recorded conversations that form the heart of the criminal case as "people jabbering."

"This is a real witch hunt. Because of the way people think, it seems to me that maybe, just maybe, someone ought to consider that we get real evidence," said Ed Genson, Blagojevich Defense Attorney.

Genson said the committee's bill against the governor relies on criminal charges and secret tape recordings that have not been verified, which violates the governor's due process rights and jeopardizes his future. He also sharply challenged the panel itself, saying some members should be removed because they've clearly already made up their minds.

"We do not allow government to be ripped from us. We should cling on to it. Hold on to it and say you can't have Rod Blagojevich unless you prove to us that he did these things," said Sam Adam, Jr., Blagojevich Defense Attorney.

According to the lead lawmakers on the impeachment committee, the hearing is not a trial or court proceeding so the panel is only concerned with whether the governor deserves to stay in office or has forfeited his right.

"I don't think this is a witch hunt. We've got plenty of evidence out there of questionable activities on the part of the governor. Remember that we are not sitting as a criminal jury," said Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, (D) Impeachment Committee Chair

"Some of us do have strong feelings about it, about him. But we also said that we're not going prejudge the governor and leave those outside the committee room," said Rep. Jim Durkin, (R) Impeachment Committee.

During the hearing, Genson argued three members of the committee have criticized the governor so harshly they cannot be objective.

"They state an opinion that basically suggests that they could not be fair," said Genson.

"My constitutional charge is fairness. And I pledge to act in a fair manner," said Rep. Jack Franks, (D) Impeachment Committee

Wednesday's hearing also included a recap of the salty language and pay-to-play accusations.

"Bleep him for nothing? Bleep him. Close quote," said David Ellis, Impeachment Committee Attorney.

On Thursday, the hearing will turn to allegations that Blagojevich abused and misused his powers in Springfield.

Genson and Adam will be at the hearing, so more fireworks are expected.


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