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Governor says his trial 'tramples constitution'

ILLINOIS Governor Rod Blagojevich, charged with trying to sell the US Senate seat formerly held by President Barack Obama, says he will not participate in an impeachment trial that could remove him from office.

Blagojevich, who has defied calls for him to resign, said on Friday the trial scheduled to start tomorrow in the state Senate "is a trampling of the Constitution" because he was barred from an unrestricted calling of witnesses involved in the criminal case against him.

"It's a scary thing if they get away with doing this," Blagojevich told a news conference.

"If a legislature will take away from the people their elected governor, who they elected twice, without giving that governor a chance to challenge the evidence and call witnesses, that's a fundamental violation of the Constitution.

"Under these rules, I'm not even getting a fair trial. They're just hanging me."

The two-term Democrat was impeached on January 9 by the Illinois House of Representatives for wide-ranging abuse of power. Without a defense, the trial may last less than a week.

If convicted by the Senate, he would be removed from office, legal experts said.

Blagojevich again denied wrongdoing in the criminal case, in which prosecutors said he was captured on wiretaps talking about trading official acts, including naming Obama's successor in the US Senate, for campaign contributions and jobs.


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