Talk Show Circuit Prepares For Blagojevich

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Gov. Rod Blagojevich applauds as he presides over the Illinois Senate Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2009, in Springfield, Ill.
AP Photo/Seth Perlman

In a case of "What's wrong with this picture?," Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich headed off to the Big Apple for a Monday chock full of national TV interviews, while in the Illinois Capitol, state senators sworn in by him two weeks ago will gather to potentially strip him of his powers, reports CBS News correspondent Cynthia Bowers.

"This issue is much larger than just me," Blagojevich said in an interview with CBS station WBBM in Chicago. "In many ways, I'm immaterial. It would be wrong for me to participate in a farce like that. That undermines the Constitution."

A farce, Blagojevich says, because of the pending criminal case against him, that he can't call as witnesses President Obama's Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, or top aide Valerie Jarrett. Witnesses, he says, can clear him of the damning charges he tried to sell Obama's Senate seat to the highest bidder. The Illinois governor denied those charges, most recently on NBC's Today Show.

"Flat out completely untrue," Blagojevich said. "And when I have my day in court, I will prove that, and I will clear my name."

But that won't likely happen during the impeachment process, Bowers reports. And the case against the governor got stronger on Friday, when a judge ruled state senators can hear from select conversations wiretapped by the FBI in which Blagojevich is allegedly heard scheming to trade a gaming license for campaign contributions.

If Blagojevich is convicted by state senators, they then have the option of banning him from state elected office - for life. That's the equivalent of a political death penalty.

Over the last few days, Blagojevich has compared himself to Teddy Roosevelt, Nelson Mandela and Ghandi, Bowers reports.

But perhaps he's more like Don Quixote - tilting at windmills and playing to audiences that can do nothing to save him from losing his job in this trial - or his freedom in the next.
By Cynthia Bowers