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Remarkable split screen on ABC's "GMA" Blagojevich in New York, state Sen. Murphy in Chicago. UPDATE. GMA transcript

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Debating the impeachment rules

courtesy Federal News Service....

MS. SAWYER: I know you have been railing against the process all weekend; I heard that, but this morning, can we just address the charges against you, specifically, the U.S. Attorney has said and this is a quote from him, that you tried to sell Barack Obama's Senate seat like a sports agent shopping the highest bidder. Did you?

GOV. BLAGOJEVICH: Absolutely not, and I'll have a chance in a criminal case to show my innocence and bring witnesses, and this impeachment trial actually gives me an opportunity if it was fair, if it allowed me to actually bring witnesses to be able to prove that those allegations are not true. But as the impeachment process exists, they won't allow me to bring witnesses like Rahm Emanuel, the president's chief of staff who has said most recently publicly that I've done nothing wrong.

MS. SAWYER: Well, I want to talk about the process of that later, but let's address again what is out there in the public record right now, what the people of Illinois have already seen, and specifically, the tapes as they've been quoted by the U.S. Attorney who says, by the way, they are not a paraphrase, they are specific quotes. Here's this, "I've got this thing and it's (bleeping) golden and I'm just not giving it up for (bleeping) nothing. I'm not going to do it and can always use it. I can parachute me in there." You go on to say, "Therefore, I can drive a hard bargain and if I don't get what I want and I'm not satisfied with it, then I'll just take the Senate seat myself. It's a (bleeping) valuable thing. You just don't give it away for nothing."

Did you say this?

GOV. BLAGOJEVICH: Well, I can't get into the specifics of the case, but I could say this. There's a process, a lot of discussions and ideas and there was an underlying effort to end up in a place that did the most for the people of Illinois. The ultimate --

MS. SAWYER: Did the most for the people of Illinois --

GOV. BLAGOJEVICH: And the ultimate --

MS. SAWYER: But the U.S. Attorney said that this was not about politics as usual. This was not political horse trading. This was personal gain and he goes on at one point here to talk about an occasion apparently when you talk about Mrs. Blagojevich getting appointed to some corporate board so you could pick up another 150 grand a year or whatever to help you as governor.

GOV. BLAGOJEVICH: Again, they took snippets of conversations completely out of context and did not provide all of the tapes that tell the whole story and when the whole story comes out, you'll see that the effort was to work to have a senator who can best represent Illinois and one that could help us create jobs and provide healthcare.

MS. SAWYER: Help me with context.

GOV. BLAGOJEVICH: Sure.

MS. SAWYER: Tell me with the context that explains, I've got this thing, it's (bleeping) golden. I'm just not giving it up for (bleeping) nothing.

GOV. BLAGOJEVICH: Again, I can't go into the details of that case, and I wish they would allow me at this impeachment trial to be able to bring the evidence to show exactly what those conversations were and the place that I ended up, which was part of a political process to leverage to be able to pass a public works programs, expand healthcare and get a deal where we don't raise taxes on people.

The whole story will come out.

MS. SAWYER: You say it's a political process, but the House, the Illinois House voted to impeach you 117 to 1, I think, the one was your sister-in-law. The president has said you should resign and the mayor of Chicago has said you're cuckoo.

GOV. BLAGOJEVICH: Right.

MS. SAWYER: Have you lost your political base? Is it gone?

GOV. BLAGOJEVICH: Here's a question I have to you, to Mayor Daley and everyone else. Whatever happened to the presumption of innocence? How is it that you can make a couple of allegations, take some conversations completely out of context? The whole story is not told and then force somebody to admit to something he didn't do and then deny that person who is a sitting governor a chance to have due process, to bring witnesses and to defend himself?

This impeachment trial gives me an opportunity to be able to disprove those allegations, show my innocence and I can do it sooner, rather than later if the Senate allows me to bring witnesses in to prove my innocence.

MS. SAWYER: Well, as you know, they have said that you passed up all the deadlines to protest against the rules and, in fact, in order to enlist other witnesses that you might bring. But rather than debate that, you said one of the things that you would introduce in order to establish that you were talking about lots of people to become senator is that you had other names on the list and you were really thinking about somebody else. Who were you thinking of?

GOV. BLAGOJEVICH: Well, there's a whole series of people that we talked about in those conversations, and ultimately, again, there was a political process, trying to be able to leverage a result that would pass a public works program, expand healthcare and hold the line on taxes.

MS. SAWYER: But who were you thinking of?

GOV. BLAGOJEVICH: Several people and I'll tell you about that. But I have to emphasize, again, this impeachment trial is unconstitutional. It denies me the right to call witnesses to defend myself and prove my innocence.

MS. SAWYER: -- in Illinois saying this to members of your own legislature instead of here?

GOV. BLAGOJEVICH: Because those senators are politicians who make the rules and won't allow us a chance to be able to get them to change the rules. So I'm here talking to Americans, to let them know what's happening in the land of Lincoln.

If they can do this to a sitting governor, deny me the right to bring witnesses in, to prove my innocence and witnesses I'd like to call, the president's chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, top staffer Valerie Jarrett, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. and a host of others --

MS. SAWYER: Again --

GOV. BLAGOJEVICH: They won't allow me to bring them in to show my innocence, and with that, it's a scary thing and if they can do that to a governor, they can do that to you.

MS. SAWYER: Let me ask you a personal question.

GOV. BLAGOJEVICH: Sure.

MS. SAWYER: I want to go back.

GOV. BLAGOJEVICH: Yeah.

MS. SAWYER: Who were you thinking of for Senate who wasn't in any of these telephone calls?

GOV. BLAGOJEVICH: There were a lot of different candidates that I explored, you know, and again, the full story will come out at the appropriate time. Do you have any suggestions on who I might have been thinking about? What have you heard?

MS. SAWYER: I heard Oprah.

GOV. BLAGOJEVICH: That is true.

MS. SAWYER: Did you call Oprah? Were you talking to her? Was this something you were just thinking?

GOV. BLAGOJEVICH: No. The idea came to me from a friend and then among the considerations we discussed whether or not it made any sense, she seemed to be someone who would help Barack Obama in a significant way become president. She was, obviously, someone with a much broader bully pulpit than other senators. She probably wouldn't take it and then we talked about if you offered it to her, how would you do it in a way that it didn't look like it was some gimmick --

MS. SAWYER: Let me try to get at these tapes though in another way. When you look at them, is there anything in them that, I guess, horrifies you to people of Illinois, deserve something better than hearing this from their governor on tape?

GOV. BLAGOJEVICH: No. I think they should hear the whole story and they'll see a governor who is trying to position and maneuver to create jobs, expand healthcare and help people make the right decision and the decision was a selfless decision.

MS. SAWYER: If --

GOV. BLAGOJEVICH: Go ahead. I'm sorry.

MS. SAWYER: If they do vote to impeach.

GOV. BLAGOJEVICH: They will. The fix is in.

MS. SAWYER: And they have voted to impeach you. If they vote, are you gone?

GOV. BLAGOJEVICH: Yes.

MS. SAWYER: You will not be governor on Monday.

GOV. BLAGOJEVICH: Well, it depends on what their timetable is, but I suspect it will be relatively soon. The fix is in. They've decided on a process that, again, denies me the opportunity to bring witnesses in like the president's chief of staff, U.S. senators and others who I discussed the Senate seat with to prove my innocence.

MS. SAWYER: And what about the criminal case? Do you actually feel prison?

GOV. BLAGOJEVICH: I know what the truth is and I believe the truth will ultimately prevail here. Unfortunately, it has gotten lost in the frenzy, and unfortunately, in America today, the media and everyone else seems to just rush to judgment and have denied me the presumption of innocence and what they've done is deny the people of Illinois who have twice elected me governor, an opportunity to have their governor make his case and defend himself because they chose me; these lawmakers did not.

MS. SAWYER: As you know, Mrs. Blagojevich is also on these tapes and some people in the columns have said she's like Lady Macbeth in the background in urging you on, particularly in an instance with The Chicago Tribune to allegedly fire some people on The Chicago Tribune in exchange for giving them financial assistance for what they want to do with Wrigley Field.

I just want to ask you in personal terms. How is Mrs. Blagojevich? What is her role in this? How is she this morning?

GOV. BLAGOJEVICH: Well, she's caring for our children. She is, unfortunately, depicted in a light that, obviously, is not her. You know, there's a phrase from a poem by Rudyard Kipling that says, "If you can bear to hear the truth, you've spoken, twisted by naves to make a trap for fools or see the things you gave your life to broken and stoop and build them up with worn out tools." Again, you take a private conversation with calls from your home that are being secretly taped and you take something like that out of context, you can twist it and make somebody look like someone you're not and my wife is a loving wife who cares for our children. She's the best person I know, a person of great character and integrity.

MS. SAWYER: And your children, Amy, 10, Annie, 4. What have you said to them? How are they doing?

GOV. BLAGOJEVICH: Amy 12 and Annie 5.

MS. SAWYER: Sorry.

GOV. BLAGOJEVICH: Well, it's a very difficult time for our family, as you can imagine and among the many reasons why I won't allow them to run me out without a fight and I won't allow these politicians to try to take things out of context and force me to accept things that aren't true is because I respect my children.

MS. SAWYER: What do you say to your girls?

GOV. BLAGOJEVICH: Well, what I say to them is how I act, and that is, I've done nothing wrong. I've done virtually everything right on behalf of the people and I'm fighting this to the very end for something that's much larger than me and the most important part of this is, they should know that their father is not the person that they're trying to say that he is and among the reasons why I won't bow to these politicians who want me to quit for their own purposes, and I must tell you when this all happened, the pressure was immense to get out and leave the office so that some of those others can make a decision on who the next senator is.

END.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on January 26, 2009 6:32 AM.

Blagojevich tells NBC's "Today Show" he expects to be removed from office. Arrest "one big misunderstanding." UPDATE Transcript. was the previous entry in this blog.

Michelle Obama focusing on getting daughters settled, long term agenda planning is the next entry in this blog.

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