Senate votes to remove Blagojevich from office


Rod Blagojevich is no longer the governor of Illinois. Lt. Gov. Patrick Quinn has taken his place. The state Senate voted unanimously Thursday to remove Blagojevich from office and disqualify him from holding public office in Illinois ever again. The vote was 59-0.

Earlier in the day, the 52-year-old Blagojevich made his first appearance at the senate trial to give a passionate closing statement in which he insisted he did nothing wrong. He told senators he shouldn't be removed from office over unproven criminal charges and stale complaints about his management decisions. While saying he did nothing illegal, Blagojevich acknowledged his conduct is "maybe not flattering in some cases." He referred to several secretly recorded conversations played earlier in the trial. Blagojevich said the tapes captured something that "all of us in politics do in order to run campaigns and win elections."

The trial lasted four days. Blagojevich had blasted the proceedings and unfair and refused to participate until the final day.

After the vote, Senate President John Cullerton said the decision to remove Blagojevich from office was in the best interest of the residents of Illinois. Cullerton said it wasn't a matter of "political expediency" or settling old scores. Cullerton says he voted to remove Blagojevich because the twice-elected governor was unable to govern, showed a disdain for the laws of Illinois and abused the trust of the people he was supposed to serve.

Blagojevich flew back to Chicago after appearing in Springfield. Following the vote, he told reporters and neighbors outside of his home that says he's saddened, but not surprised, by the Illinois Senate's decision to boot him from office. He said he isn't looking for any pity, he never considered resigning and he just wants the opportunity to clear his name. He said the impeachment proceedings were "a fixed deal from the very beginning." Blagojevich said he "loves the people of Illinois" more than ever and he intends to keep fighting now that he's in the private sector.

The security detail that guards the Illinois governor appeared to have left Blagojevich's home less than an hour after the Senate vote. One security official leaving the house wouldn't say why he was departing. He would only tell reporters that he'd get his orders later in the evening.

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