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Scandal in Illinois: The Blag-Opera

The Chicago Tribune breaks down the impeachment trial that begins today. "With senators serving as Blagojevich's judge and jury, House representatives prosecuting the case, and the governor mounting no defense and likely not attending, the Senate trial is expected to conclude within days. A conviction, which would require at least 40 of the 59 senators, would result in the governor's immediate removal from office."

More: "Over the weekend, House prosecutors moved swiftly to ask that four secret recordings of the governor, part of the federal criminal charges that led to his arrest, be played in the Senate. The recordings involve alleged attempts by the two-term Democratic governor to secure campaign funds from the horse-racing industry in return for signing a bill to divert casino gambling revenue to horse tracks."

"The impeachment of Blagojevich, who compared himself Sunday with persecuted icons Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi, is a foregone conclusion. The vote to convict him could come as early as Monday. But the governor, who was caught on FBI wiretaps scheming to sell President Obama's vacated Senate seat, is ignoring the whole thing."

The AP: "Legal experts see little benefit to Blagojevich from boycotting the trial while refusing to resign. The decision means he'll still be leaving office soon, but only after proceedings guaranteed to put him in a bad light. Senators, and thus the public, will hear details of the criminal charges against Blagojevich. They're likely to hear recordings that allegedly reveal the governor talking about signing legislation in exchange for campaign contributions. And in addition to simply removing Blagojevich, the Senate could vote to bar him from ever again holding public office in Illinois."