Blago to break his silence this week

ABC’s Matthew Jaffe reports that Rod Blagojevich plans to hold a press conference this week to take questions about his arrest and the pending impeachment probe in the Illinois state legislature.  Legally, that may not be the smartest strategy around, but politically, Blagojevich has little choice:

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich will likely hold a press conference toward the end of this week, ABC News has learned.

The embattled governor, arrested last Tuesday, has yet to respond to charges that he tried to sell President-elect Barack Obama’s former Senate seat. …

“I can’t wait to begin to tell my side of the story and to address you guys and most importantly the people of Illinois, that’s who I’m dying to talk to,” said the governor.

“There’s a time and place for everything. That day will soon be here and you might know more about that today and no later than tomorrow,” Blagojevich added.

Any defense attorney worth his sheepskin will tell defendants to keep their mouths shut.  Public statements can get used by prosecutors in trials, and excessive talking could also uncover evidence and co-conspirators that investigators missed the first time around.  Lawyers handle the press for their clients to avoid handing gifts to the prosecution, especially in cases of conspiracies and corruption.

However, Blagojevich has decided to keep his job rather than resign in disgrace, which means he has to push hard against attempts to remove him from office.  He took a body blow when the House voted unanimously for impeachment proceedings to start, making his removal a non-partisan issue.  In order to slow that down, Blagojevich has to convince Illinois voters that Patrick Fitzgerald overstepped in filing the complaint and that nothing said on those wiretaps amounted to illegal actions or corruption.

In order to do that, Blagojevich will have to provide explanations for what’s already been released to the public and what may still come out after the grand jury completes its deliberations.  That is dangerous territory for Blagojevich, especially if he has given any statements to investigators already.  If he provides contradictions to interrogation or unwittingly corroborates some of the charges, Fitzgerald will pounce on those statements — as will Blagojevich’s political opponents.

Blagojevich has likely spent the past week trying to build a story for the media that can explain all of this as innocent misunderstandings.  He’d better hope his explanations are airtight — and even then, I doubt he’ll get enough sympathy from Illinois voters to stop the impeachment process.

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