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Illinois Lawmakers Talk Impeachment for Blagojevich

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Illinois Lawmakers Talk Impeachment for Blagojevich

Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan speaks to reporters at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield today (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

This afternoon, Illinois state lawmakers are exploring the possibility of impeachment proceedings against Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.

Mike Madigan, Speaker of the Illinois State House, outlined the plan for impeachment proceedings this afternoon.

He stressed it’s been six days since federal authorities arrested Blagojevich for allegedly selling his influence and power—including his authority to appoint a senate replacement for President elect Barack Obama.

MADIGAN: During these six days, Governor Blagojevich has declined the opportunity to voluntarily leave the office of governor.

Madigan says the Illinois state house plans to form a 21-member committee, which will explore the possibility impeachment.

The speaker says the group will include 12 Democrats and 9 Republicans.

MADIGAN: We’re going to ask the committee to begin work tomorrow, and to work every day except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and News Years Day.

Eventually, the committee will present a report to the state house.

The house will then vote on whether to send the impeachment process to the state senate for trial.

Madigan repeatedly stressed how carefully lawmakers should approach the process.

CURRIE: This is not a kangaroo court.

Barbara Flynn Currie is Madigan’s Democratic Majority Leader.

Currie will oversee the impeachment committee.

CURRIE: It is absolutely critical that we do this deliberatively, that we don’t rush to judgment, that we don’t say because the public is clamoring for his head, we should take the head first and do the trial later.

Madigan’s plans drew a mostly positive response from Republicans.

CROSS: We will gladly move forward starting this afternoon.

Republican Minority Leader Tom Cross says he’d like to see Republicans and Democrats get equal number of seats on the impeachment committee—but he thinks overall Madigan’s plan is good.

CROSS: I take him at his word that we’re going to move forward and I believe that to be the case.

Today, lawmakers are also discussing legislation that would strip Blagojevich of his power to fill Obama’s vacant senate seat.

Since his arrest, Blagojevich has continued to deny any wrongdoing—although a spokesman says he might consider signing legislation that would take away his power over the senate appointment.

As for impeachment proceedings, he says the governor has no response unless the house decides to officially move forward.

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