Ill. Senate convenes Blagojevich impeachment trial

January 26, 2009 10:19:55 AM PST
The Illinois Senate has convened a historic impeachment trial that will determine whether Gov. Rod Blagojevich is removed from office. Chief Justice Thomas Fitzgerald began the trial Monday by reminding senators they face "a solemn and serious business."

Senators will consider charges that the Democratic governor tried to sell a Senate seat, used his authority to pressure campaign contributors and defied legislative decisions.

Blagojevich is refusing to take part in the trial. He says its rules are so biased that he can't present a defense. The judge ordered the trial to proceed as if Blagojevich had entered a plea of not guilty.

Blagojevich spent Monday in New York, where he made several TV appearances to proclaim his innocence.

It would take a two-thirds vote in the Senate to convict Blagojevich and remove him from office. Senators also could vote to bar him from ever holding office again.

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