CHICAGO (AP) — Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Tuesday lashed out at lawmakers who booted him from office, calling his removal a “hijacking.”
“I view what happened on Thursday as a hijacking by a legislature that removed a governor and prevented that governor from proving his innocence by denying me the right to bring witnesses in,” Blagojevich said on NBC’s “Today” show.
The Illinois Senate unanimously convicted Blagojevich on Thursday of abuse of power, making him the first U.S. governor in more than 20 years to be removed by impeachment.
Neither the prosecution nor the defense was allowed to summon any witnesses whose testimony might interfere with an ongoing federal criminal case. But Blagojevich did not ask to call any witnesses, and did not participate in the trial other than delivering his own closing statement.
“It was an unlawful and improper impeachment. So I don’t view myself at all as being shamed or disgraced,” he said. “They did a disservice to the people of Illinois.”
Blagojevich still faces federal corruption charges including allegations he tried to profit from selling President Barack Obama’s vacant U.S. Senate seat.
Blagojevich has repeatedly maintained his innocence. When asked Tuesday if he ever tried to profit from the appointment, he replied: “flat-out, unequivocally no way. No.”
The former governor also said he was eager to have his day in court.
“This is America, and I still believe this is a place where, as it’s written in the Bible the truth will set you free. I’m clinging to the truth and embracing the truth, I’ll ride the truth, and I’ll clear my name.”
Blagojevich also was to appear Tuesday on CNN’s “Larry King Live,” Fox’s “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren” and CBS’ “Late Show with David Letterman.”