Legal rulings could affect Blagojevich investigation

January 5, 2009 8:55:24 PM PST
Two legal rulings issued on Monday may affect the investigation and potential impeachment of Gov. Blagojevich. Members of the House special committee looking into impeaching Gov. Blagojevich were hoping to hear four secret recordings sometime this week.

But a federal judge's ruling on Monday means they're unlikely to get that evidence so quickly. Even so, members of that committee told ABC7 that they're ready to vote for impeachment.

"If you were an armchair quarterback predicting, you'd say it's a unanimous vote, flies out of the House," said State Rep. Tom Cross (R), House select committee on impeachment.

On Monday night, Republicans and Democrats alike predict Gov. Rod Blagojevich will go down in the House later this week with or without them hearing what is on those tapes.

"This is the smoking gun and it's going to really humiliate this governor," said State Rep. Julie Hamos (D), House select committee on impeachment.

The smoking gun -- state representative Julie Hamos believes -- is what's on four secret recordings made in the federal investigation of Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Prosecutors have offered to make available four calls in which Blagojevich allegedly can be heard making a pay-to-play shakedown over legislation involving the state's horse racing industry.

A federal judge ordered that defense attorneys should get to listen to the tapes first and if they don't object, the tapes could be released to the House committee on Thursday.

"I don't want to comment about the court proceedings," said Ed Genson, Gov. Blagojevich's attorney.

But Genson warned he might object unless all the recorded calls in the case were turned over to lawmakers to give a complete picture of events.

But even without the tapes, House committee members say an impeachment vote will probably come before the end of the week.

"We have quite a lot of material, and it seems to me it's important for us to sit down, see what we have and come to a conclusion whether what we have suggests that the governor should no longer be the governor," said Ill. Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, House impeachment committee chair.

And just back from a tour of duty in Afghanistan, Congressman Mark Kirk, a navy reservist, says the scandal is an embarrassment worldwide.

"When I said I was from Illinois, a lot of them laughed," said Kirk (R), Northern Suburbs.

Kirk said the Afghan minister of agriculture told him even in Afghanistan, a politican wouldn't be that brazen.

Also, on Monday, prosecutors were given a 90 day extension to indict Blagojevich. They asked for more time because so many people have come forward with information since the governor's arrest.