Resignation or impeachment?

RESIGNATION OR IMPEACHMENT?…. The Illinois Republican Party issued a statement this morning that said, among other things, “Governor Blagojevich should not, under this cloud of extremely serious allegations, appoint a United States Senator.” I’m very much inclined to agree.

I’m not entirely sure, though, on the next procedural steps. Things obviously look awfully bad for Rod Blagojevich today, but for legal purposes, he’s innocent until proven guilty, even though he looks really, really guilty. With that in mind, he’s still the governor, and he still has the formal authority to fill the Senate vacancy, whether he should or not.

So, what happens next? Ideally, Blagojevich would voluntarily resign. That seems unlikely. The next best thing, at least with regards to the vacancy, would be for Blagojevich to recuse himself from the process altogether, and give the responsibility for this to Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn (D).

And then there’s Door #3.

Several Democratic operatives from Illinois say the Illinois state legislature will likely move as quickly as possible to hold impeachment proceedings against Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D), in attempts to prevent the jailed governor from appointing President-elect Barack Obama’s successor in the Senate.

The Illinois General Assembly would be tasked with holding impeachment hearings, and the state Senate would vote on a conviction.

Illinois law allows Blagojevich to make an appointment while in jail. While the decision would be a disaster for Democrats politically, no one is ruling out that prospect.

Stay tuned.

Washington Monthly - Donate today and your gift will be doubled!

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.