Facing impeachment, Illinois governor cites Gandhi

January 27th, 2009 - 11:42 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Jan 27 (IANS) As embattled Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s impeachment trial began, he hit the media circuit saying he reached into history to draw inspiration from major political figures like Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela who overcame adversity.Blagojevich, accused among other things of trying to auction President Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat, appeared Monday on ABC’s “Good Morning America”, “The View” and CNN’s “Larry King Live” answering questions about Oprah Winfrey, foul language and why he wasn’t resigning.

“I’ve been criticised for this, but I’m not comparing myself to Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela or Mahatma Gandhi, but I tried to reach in to history and imagine some inspiring figures that would have gone through something like I was going through for sustenance and inspiration,” he said.

Blagojevich added that he looks forward to the day when he can tell his story in full, rather than people judging him by snippets of conversation released to the media.

He did say he looked forward to calling witnesses - including White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Democrat Senator Dick Durbin and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid - who had conversations with him about who should replace Obama as the junior senator from Illinois.

Blagojevich maintained the goal of the conversations was to get the best senator for the people of Illinois.

“There was a lot of exchanging of ideas, asking questions, exploring options - including Oprah Winfrey - but never, not ever did I have any intention of violating any criminal law,” Blagojevich said. “Never was this about selling any Senate seat for any kind of personal gain.”

On both of his ABC appearances, Blagojevich explained why talk-show host Winfrey was a contender to fill Obama’s former Senate seat.

“My thought was an African American woman who probably by herself has more influence than 100 Senators. She was instrumental in electing Barack Obama president. She clearly could use her bully pulpit to do good things for people,” the second-term Democratic governor said on “The View”.

Winfrey said that she had no idea she was under consideration and was “amused by the whole thing” but would have turned down the proposal had it been made.

Blagojevich was arrested on Dec 9, but was released within hours with his sole authority to fill Obama’s vacant seat intact. He then brazenly went ahead to pick former Illinois attorney general Roland Burris to replace Obama.

The governor’s impeachment trial began Monday in the Illinois Senate. The state House of Representatives impeached him earlier this month.

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