Multi-Page: Page 1

ts." After Mr. Blagojevich appeared, the lawmakers took a recess to allow Democrats and Republicans to meet in separate groups. When they returned, David Ellis, the House prosecutor, rebutted the governor�?�¢??s statement, criticizing him for not speaking under oath or taking questions. "He simply says there�?�¢??s no evidence and walks off the stage," Mr. Ellis said. "He says, �?�¢??walk a mile in his shoes,�?�¢?? " he continued. "Well, if I were innocent and I were in his shoes, I would have taken that witness stand and I would have testified and I would have told you why I was innocent. The governor didn�?�¢??t do that." When the rebuttal was over, the senators again split by party and went into private caucuses before beginning their deliberations. Earlier this morning, spectators had packed the Senate gallery in anticipation of possibly seeing, for the first time in the state�?�¢??s history, the removal from office of a sitting governor. A line of people stretched down the corridor, waiting to get in. The session opened with the prosecution�?�¢??s closing argument. The governor�?�¢??s statement had been expected to last an hour and a half, but took only about 45 minutes. Mr. Blagojevich�?�¢??s announcement on Wednesday that he wanted to address the Senate on Thursday came about an hour before the prosecution rested its case, and brought negative reactions from lawmakers. Many had previously lamented the governor�?�¢??s absence from the proceedings and had repeatedly requested he testify. �?�¢??It�?�¢??s somewhat cowardly that he won�?�¢??t take questions,�?�¢?? said Senator Dan Cronin, a Republican, on Wednesday. �?�¢??If he had something to say, he should have come down here like a man and faced the music.�?�¢?? During a publicity tour this week, Mr. Blagojevich, a two-term Democrat who was arrested Dec. 9 on federal corruption charges, repeatedly professed his innocence, calling the impeachment trial unfair, and complaining bitterly that many of the statements attributed to him on recordings of his telephone conversations, made by federal agents, had been taken out of context. Senators here denounced the publicity campaign. Earlier on Wednesday, the Senate president, John Cullerton, a Democrat, challenged Mr. Blagojevich to appear in Springfield. �?�¢??If he wants to come down here, instead of hiding out in New York and having Larry King asking questions instead of the senators �?�¢?? I think he�?�¢??s making a mistake.�?�¢?? Impeachment proceedings against Mr. Blagojevich erupted in the days after the governor�?�¢??s arrest by federal agents. Among other things, the case includes accusations that Mr. Blagojevich tried to sell the appointment of President Barack Obama�?�¢??s former United States Senate seat to the highest bidder and threatened to withhold money from a local children�?�¢??s hospital, unless its executives contributed money to him. In Thursday�?�¢??s session, senators will cast votes on two issues. The first will be whether to remove the governor from office. The second will be to determine whether Mr. Blagojevich should be barred from holding office in the future. To remove the governor from office, the senate must vote by a two-thirds majority (or at least 40 of the 59 senators). If that happens, Pat Quinn, the state�?�¢??s lieutenant governor, would immediately replace him. Mr. Blagojevich would then become the first governor in the state�?�¢??s history, and the first governor nationally to be removed since 1988, when Arizona lawmakers removed Gov. Evan Mecham from office.