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Blagojevich Tells Newsmax: 'I Did Nothing Wrong'

By Jim Meyers   |   Wednesday, 16 Sep 2009 11:07 AM

In an exclusive Newsmax interview, ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich insists the accusations against him are "completely false" and says he would not accept a plea bargain even if it meant he escapes a prison sentence.

He also claims he and Barack Obama had no idea that their fundraiser, convicted felon Tony Rezko, was involved in any criminal activities.

See Video: Rod Blagojevich talks about the charges he’s facing and the corrupt fundraiser he shared with President Obama - Click Here Now

Blagojevich was impeached and removed from office by the Illinois Senate on Jan. 29 for corruption and misconduct in office over charges that he tried to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Obama to the highest bidder.

The Democrat had been arrested in December on federal corruption charges including solicitation of bribery.

Blagojevich tells his side of the story in his new book "The Governor." Newsmax.TV's Dan Mangru asked him what he would say to people who think the book is simply an attempt by the former governor to cash in on his plight.

"We're saying to people what the truth is," Blagojevich responded, claiming that he has been "maligned," had his "reputation slaughtered," and been "lied about."

"The truth has been mutilated," he continued. "Accusations that I was trying to sell a Senate seat for financial gain are completely false.

"And when you've been hijacked from office, the office the people of Illinois elected me to serve in twice, without being given a chance to prove my innocence, call witnesses, and deprived of an opportunity to have every taped conversation that was secretly recorded heard in the Illinois Senate, and then to be removed from office in a process that was phony and political and didn't require them to prove any wrongdoing, you have a real need to go out and tell the people what the truth is.

"I've been elected by the people. I've never lost an election, and it means a lot to me for the people who hired me to know I didn't do the things I've been accused of doing."

Mangru noted that federal prosecutors say a tape recording reveals that a potential Senate candidate was willing to offer Blagojevich money in exchange for the Senate appointment.

Blagojevich: "I can't go into specific details...but I will say, and I've written in my book, there were people who approached aides of mine and offered campaign contributions and suggested campaign fundraising if I would be willing to consider the candidate they were supporting for the United States Senate."

Mangru: "Did you ever say yes to any of those?"

Blagojevich: "The answer is absolutely not. And no one associated with me with any authority approached anybody along those lines."

Blagojevich was impeached by a vote of 59-0, and "not a single Democratic senator stood up for you," Mangru said. "Were you hurt?"

"Well, yes. Some of those same senators were friends of mine and were people who had open access to my office and were political allies, and I thought friends," Blagojevich said.

"But Harry Truman had a saying: If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog. So it really wasn't surprising...Politicians are politicians. There's not a lot of fortitude with most of them and it was inevitable that they would run away."

Mangru asked Blagojevich about his relationship with Chicago businessman Tony Rezko, a major fundraiser for Blagojevich and Obama who was convicted in 2008 on fraud and bribery charges over kickback demands he made to businesses seeking work with the state of Illinois.

"My mistake was, as was President Obama's, that we didn't know he was the person he turned out to be, and that we didn't know — I can't speak for the president but I'm certain it's the case — that Tony Rezko was involved in any kind of criminal wrongdoing."

Mangru noted that tapes essentially reveal Obama wanted his current Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett for the Senate seat, but he and Rahm Emanuel weren't willing to give Blagojevich anything but appreciation if he appointed her. Blagojevich disputed that.

"I'm not sure President Obama wanted Valerie Jarrett," he said.

"I don't know that to be true. I know emissaries who purported to be speaking for him talked about that but I don't know if that really came from him or not."

Blagojevich admitted that he eventually appointed Roland Burris to the Senate seat because of his race.

"I chose Roland Burris largely because he was an African-American, and I felt it was important to choose an African-American leader to fill the vacancy left by the first African-American president when there were no African-American senators after Obama resigned his Senate seat," he explained.

Mangru asked Blagojevich if he would accept a deal where he would get no jail time if he pleaded guilty.

"No deal. No deal," Blagojevich declared.

"I did nothing wrong and under no circumstances will I acknowledge that I did anything wrong when I didn't do anything wrong."

See Video: Rod Blagojevich talks about the charges he’s facing and the corrupt fundraiser he shared with President Obama - Click Here Now

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