The Illinois Senate has convened a historic impeachment trial that will determine whether Gov. Rod Blagojevich is removed from office, the AP reports. Chief Justice Thomas Fitzgerald began the trial today by reminding senators that they face "a solemn and serious business." They will consider charges that the Democratic governor tried to sell a Senate seat, used his authority to pressure campaign contributors, and defied legislative decisions.
Blagojevich is refusing to take part in the trial. He says its rules are so biased that he can't present a defense. The judge ordered the trial to proceed as if Blagojevich had entered a plea of not guilty. Blagojevich spent the day in New York, where he made several TV appearances to proclaim his innocence. It would take a two-thirds vote in the Senate to remove him from office.