Blago swears in Senate that will try him

Impeachment trial
January 14, 2009 9:17:18 PM PST
Impeached Gov. Rod Blagojevich was greeted with silence by the Illinois Senate as he swore them in on Wednesday. The trial of Gov. Rod Blagojevich is officially underway. And while testimony doesn't begin until later this month, action in Springfield on Wednesday set the process in motion.

The Senate was sworn in by the same man they'll have to judge in a few weeks.

It was an awkward moment to say the least but the Illinois constitution requires the governor to convene the Senate in odd numbered years.

Governor Blagojevich used a back door to enter the Senate chambers.

When he arrived, the governor was greeted with silence, a sharp contrast to the tradition of applause and a standing ovation.

During the ceremony, Blagojevich stuck to formalities, then handed the proceedings over to incoming Senate president John Cullerton who says the governor will be judged without bias.

"We are going to take our jobs seriously. The rules that we are about to adopt are very fair and we will do justice as per the constitution," said Cullterton.

When the governor left, the Senate got down to business - the impeachment of the man who just swore them in.

"He would be better off if he could get a change of venue than he's going to be getting in a few weeks," said State Sen. Rickey Hendon, (D) Chicago.

Nine boxes of evidence and files from the House Impeachment Committee were wheeled into the chambers.

"The Illinois Senate will be fair, just, transparent and very democratic and will give the governor a fair shake," said State Sen. Martin Sandoval, (D) Chicago.

The Illinois House debated a second impeachment resolution.

The vote which included newly elected members insures the legality of the vote that took place last week. The only 'no' vote was cast by the governor's sister-in-law, Debra Mell.

Blagojevich's only comments came during his official duties.

"I hope we can find some inspiration in Abraham Lincoln's words, with malice towards none and charity for all, let us come together and get the business of the people done," said Gov. Blagojevich.

An official summons was delivered to the governor's office in Springfield and at his Chicago home.

The trial is expected to begin on January 26. Senate president Cullerton is hoping the trial will last a couple of weeks.