Blagojevich: I am not guilty of any criminal wrongdoing

December 20, 2008 12:06:28 PM PST
Gov. Rod Blagojevich spoke publicly for the first time on Friday afternoon about federal corruption charges vowing to fight every step of the way. WATCH GOV. BLAGOJEVICH'S ADDRESS: Gov: "I have the personal knowledge that I have not done anything wrong.". (PART 2: Attorneys answer questions from the press)

"I will fight. I will fight. I will fight until I take my last breath. I have done nothing wrong," said Gov. Blagojevich. "I have the personal knowledge that I have not done anything wrong."

Blagojevich promised that in the end he will be vindicated.

Prosecutors have accused the governor of trying to sell President-elect Barack Obama's vacant U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder.

The governor didn't take any questions and he didn't talk about any of the specific pay-to-play allegations in the federal complaint. He said that he is "dying to answer the charges" but only in a court of law.

Rod Blagojevich, a former golden gloves boxer, battled back verbally on Friday for the first time since U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald rocked the political world with the criminal charges. The governor is not resigning but he will consider stepping down temporarily if the heat makes it impossible to run the state.

Gov. Blagojevich told the biggest audience of his life on live television around the world that he's not resigning because he's done nothing wrong. And he'll fight the criminal charges against him like he's fought a thousand political battles over the years.

"I'm not going to quit a job the people hired me to do because of false accusations and a political lynch mob," Blagojevich said.

The governor claims to be innocent of the pay-to-play charges in last week's federal complaint which includes a sensational allegation bolstered by profanity-laced conversations secretly taped by the FBI that he tried to auction off Barack Obama's Senate seat to the highest bidder. But he did not get into the specifics on Friday.

"I am dying to show you how innocent I am," said Gov. Blagojevich. "However, I intend to answer (those questions) in the appropriate forum, in a court of law. And when I do, I am absolutely certain I will be vindicated."

The governor's asked the people of Illinois to afford him the same presumption of innocence they would expect for themselves and their families. But he's did not apologize for the salty language on the tapes, according to one of his attorneys.

"Did you see him today? That right there was the governor that was elected by the people of Illinois. 'I did nothing wrong,' is what he said. He's not going to apologize for fighting for sick children," said Sam Adam, Jr., attorney.

"If it doesn't work, if it's too hard, if the people of Illinois suffer, he will step aside," continued Adam. "This is something the state has never gone through... I can't tell you three or five days before Christmas, three or four days before Easter, I may have a better idea."

In other words, the governor is fighting the charges and he is not resigning. But he is considering the possibility of taking a leave of absence which is perfectly legal under state law, if the heat from Springfield and South Dearborn and the rest of Illinois makes it impossible to govern.

But ironically Blagojevich is spending more time in his office these days, in the middle of this political firestorm, than he ever did when things were relatively calm.


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