Panel on Blagojevich's Impeachment

Panel on Blagojevich's Impeachment

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume - January 9, 2009


GOV. ROD BLAGOJEVICH, (D) ILLINOIS: In many cases, the things we did for people have literally saved lives. I don't believe those are impeachable offenses.

So we're going to move forward, and I'm going to continue to fight every step of the way. Let me reassert to all of you once more that I am not guilty of any criminal wrongdoing. That issue will be dealt with on a separate course in an appropriate forum, a federal court.

And I'm confident that at the end of the day I will be properly exonerated.


BAIER: Well, a defiant Illinois governor, Rod Blagojevich, after the state House of Representatives impeached him 114 to one in what some called a surreal event, a live television even, where he dragged up a lot of people who he said he helped through efforts in the governor's office.

A strange development today also in the Illinois State Supreme Court-- they ruled that the state secretary of state does not have to sign the paperwork for Blagojevich's appointment to the U.S. Senate, Roland Burris.

There you see Jesse White, who said today, "Guess what? I'm not going to sign it." The Senate says they're not going to seat him because he doesn't have the paperwork. Wow.

Some analytical observations from Fred Barnes, executive editor of "The Weekly Standard," Mort Kondrake, executive editor of "Roll Call," and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, FOX news contributors all.

Fred, it's complex. Let's start with the governor and that defiant event today?

FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": I don't think that helped much. As you pointed out, the vote in the House was 114 to one. I think he may do a little better in the Senate, but it looks like the guy is going to get impeached.

The only question is when. I think they have scheduled the trial for sometime later in January, but Democrats might try to move it up and have it earlier and get rid of him sooner.

And, you know what? That in no way would invalidate his selection of Roland Burris as the senator to replace Barack Obama as Illinois's second senator. That stands. There is no legal bar to that now. The Senate doesn't have one, I don't care what Reid and Durbin say. I just think they are going to have to seat him.

Look, even if Blagojevich is tossed out, impeached and convicted, and Patrick Quinn comes in as the new governor, he is lieutenant governor now, that will not change the appointment of Burris.

BAIER: I mentioned the trial--now that the house has voted for impeachment, it goes on to the state Senate, where there will be a trial.

MORT KONDRAKE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "ROLL CALL": This is a two-ring circus. You got one ring here in Washington, and another ring out in Illinois. And the star of the Illinois ring is a dead man walking. You just got through seeing him.

BAIER: Were you impressed by his oratory?

KONDRAKE: No! It was pathetic, frankly. It was pathetic. And the citizens of Illinois ought to be ashamed of themselves for electing this guy and reelecting this guy. But, nonetheless, he's on his way out.

And then, as Fred points out, you could have a situation where you have two appointed senators. I mean, if Pat Quinn decides to stay-

BAIER: The lieutenant governor.

KONDRAKE: The lieutenant governor succeeds to governorship and appoints his favorite, which is Danny Davis, a congressman from Illinois, also African-American by the way, so that won't be an issue. Bobby Rush won't be able to wave the bloody shirt anymore.

So you would have two duly appointed senators. Who is going to decide who the actual senator is? Does it go to the U.S. Supreme Court, in which case Illinois is without a senator for who knows how long?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Mort, that's happened before. The Catholic Church had two Popes, one in Avignon, and after about 100 years it got settled.

Look, this circus is amazing. The Senate Democrats were looking for a way out. And yesterday they established two conditions--if your papers are in order, and if you go to the House committee and you show that your appointment wasn't corrupt.

So his papers are obviously in order. The Supreme Court of Illinois has ruled you don't have to have the signature of the secretary of state. It is not his prerogative, he doesn't have a veto. It's a done deal.

Now, on the other issue, Burris gave a statement yesterday, which I would nominate as statement of the week, probably of the year even though it is January, in which he explained himself-"There was certainly no pay- to-play involvement because I don't have no money."

Now, he could be the only honest man left in Illinois politics. This is about as open a statement of what Chicago honesty is. I don't have the money to bribe, so I have to be an honest man. You got to hand it to him.

So here we have a -- I can't see how Reid and the others are going to now to switch course again and deny him the seat after the two conditions, papers and speaking with the Illinois impeachment committee, are met. But if they want to hold out until there is a new governor, it will cause real political problems internally among Senate Democrats.

BAIER: Fred, what's the next step when it comes to the U.S. Senate? Are they going to wait for a lawsuit from Burris?

BARNES: What they've said, and what Dick Durbin, the number two in the Senate, and the other senator from Illinois said was they wanted to wait until after the impeachment trial and presumed conviction of Blagojevich. I just think they're putting it off, hoping that something will come along.

Look, they have a worry. And the worry is that Burris cannot be reelected in 2004 if he runs. And then if he doesn't, it is an open seat.

And they're worried about, even though the Republican Party has been behind the 8-ball in Illinois for awhile now, the Republicans could recover. They have a couple of good candidates, particularly Congressman Mark Kirk.

So they want somebody in there who can hold the seat for Democrats.

KONDRAKE: The Senate Democrats are hanging their hat on rule number two, Senate rule number two. And I read it today, and it just recommends that the secretary of state of the state sign the thing. It does not require it.

And so this is a game.

BAIER: How long, quickly, does it take to get a second senator in Illinois?

KRAUTHAMMER: I think in ten days the Democrats will cave in the Senate and appoint Burris.

KONDRAKE: No, I think it will take into February. They're going to hustle Blagojevich out of there. Quinn will appoint Burris, and it will be all over.

BARNES: I'm with Charles, ten days.

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