Push to impeach Blagojevich

CHICAGO The legislators are moving ahead with their impeachment plan because the governor has given no indication he will resign. Illinois Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn Thursday said impeachment is an urgent matter. He is pushing the Illinois legislature to act quickly.

Impeachment is such uncharted territory that members of the legislature who are normally quite well-versed on the intersection of law and politics are scratching their heads on this one. Their questions are about how it would work, not why it should, and while the impeachment of Rod Blagojevich is not now on the agenda for next week's return to Springfield, there is a growing chorus saying it should be.

"I think the legislature should begin promptly consideration of impeachment," said Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn.

The lieutenant governor said Thursday it's time to start the machinery of impeachment. The House Republican leader agrees.

"As unpleasant as impeachment sounds, it's something we need to do. We need to do it sooner than later," said Rep. Tom Cross, House GOP leader.

Since the Illinois General Assembly has never before been down the road to impeachment, there are a lot of questions. Some are concerned that it could become a long, ugly process. It could be expensive, perhaps in the millions of dollars, and there are questions of evidence.

Would the state House, which acts as something of a grand jury in the impeachment process, be able to present any more of the federal criminal case against Blagojevich than what's in the public record? And what about witnesses?

"We'll make sure that whatever we do to move in that direction is done diligently, done responsibly, and hopefully as quickly as possible without compromising the integrity of the process," said Rep. Susana Mendoza, (D) 1st District.

Mendoza was once a Blagojevich champion on the House floor, but she now eagerly calls for his impeachment.

House Speaker Mike Madigan has not played his hand yet on impeachment. His spokesman says the issue needs careful, diligent treatment.

Were the process to start, some legislators believe it would have to be concluded before the new General Assembly is seated in mid-January. Otherwise, it could be a start over.

So, Cross is arguing, start it next week.

"We don't have a choice here. In an ideal world, for everybody in this state and maybe this country, he should step down," Cross said.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan Says she is waiting to see what the General Assembly chooses to do on impeachment, but she is prepared to move forward with a filing that would ask the state supreme court to remove Blagojevich based on the argument that his is now incapable of governing.

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