It Could Have Been Senator Oprah, Says Blagojevich

Monday, 26 Jan 2009 07:56 AM

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Gov. Rod Blagojevich, taking his defense to television rather than his impeachment trial, lashed out at his accusers Monday and revealed he had considered naming Oprah Winfrey to the U.S. Senate.

The embattled governor told ABC's "Good Morning America" that the idea of nominating the talk show host came to him as he explored potential candidates for the job that federal prosecutors allege he tried to sell to the highest bidder.

"She seemed to be someone who would help Barack Obama in a significant way become president," he said. "She was obviously someone with a much broader bully pulpit than other senators."

The governor worried, though, that the appointment of Winfrey might come across as a gimmick and that the talk show host was unlikely to accept.

In the end, Blagojevich appointed former Illinois attorney general Roland Burris to the vacant seat.

The revelation came just hours before his impeachment trial was set to get under way in Springfield. The Democratic governor is refusing to take part, arguing that the rules are so biased that he can't possibly get a fair hearing.

In addition to the appearance on "Good Morning America," Blagojevich also was scheduled to appear on "The View" and "Larry King Live." An interview he did with NBC's "Today" show also aired Monday morning.

Blagojevich is accused of abusing his power by scheming to benefit from a Senate appointment, circumventing hiring laws and defying decisions by the General Assembly.

He reiterated his innocence Monday, telling "Good Morning America" that "I did nothing wrong. And if I did something wrong, I would have resigned."

At another point he said: "Whatever happened to the presumption of innocence?"

His Dec. 9 arrest was the final straw for lawmakers, who had spent six years butting heads with Blagojevich. The House quickly voted 114-1 for impeaching the governor. That sent the case to the Senate, where it would take a two-thirds majority to convict Blagojevich and throw him out of office.

Lt. Gov. Patrick Quinn would replace him, becoming Illinois' 41st governor.

© 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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