CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois' embattled but defiant governor turned to the history books to describe the emotional strain on him and his family, comparing his arrest last month to Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor.
"Dec. 9 to my family, to us, to me, is what Pearl Harbor Day was to the United States," Gov. Rod Blagojevich told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday. "It was a complete surprise, completely unexpected. And just like the United States prevailed in that, we'll prevail in this."
The two-term Democrat, speaking on a snowy sidewalk outside the office of one of his attorneys, said there was no chance he would resign before the start of his impeachment trial in the state Senate next week.
"I'm going to fight this to the very end," he said.
But that fight, Blagojevich said, most likely won't include his appearance at the trial, which is set to begin Monday. The governor, along with his lawyers, say the trial rules are unfair, in part because they bar him from calling witnesses who are likely to be called in any criminal corruption trial later.
"I'm not going to be a party to that process," he said. "That would be a violation of my oath of office. That, to me, would be an impeachable offense."
He said his decision came from what he called a "bigger principle," which he said includes due process and the right to call witnesses.
"In some respects it's an honor to fall on principle on behalf of the people," he said.
Blagojevich, wearing a black leather jacket and gripping a blue legal folder, also accused legislators of "a rush to judgment," saying they wanted him gone so they could pass tax legislation.
"The reason they're doing this is because they can't wait to get rid of me so they can raise taxes on the people of Illinois," he said. "This is as much about a tax increases as it is about anything else."
Blagojevich is accused of scheming to benefit from his power to name President Barack Obama's replacement in the U.S. Senate.
Speaking for more than 40 minutes on Chicago station WLS-AM, Blagojevich said he couldn't discuss specifics of the federal corruption charges against him - but insisted he hasn't done anything wrong.
"And it was, of course, part of a political process that is not that inconsistent with the way the process works," he said.
The governor told the AP that with all the pressures on him, being the butt of jokes on late-night TV shows wasn't among them. The governor said he has not seen any of the parodies and asked a reporter if they were any good.
"People can criticize and vilify, they can do skits on `Saturday Night Live' - I think that goes along with the territory," he said. "But what I won't do is cave in and sacrifice the people of Illinois and be party to some phony farce, some unconstitutional process that's designed to remove me from office so these lawmakers can raise taxes on people."
Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, who would become governor if Blagojevich resigns or is removed, told the AP Friday he has gotten
no help from Blagojevich in preparing for that possibility, but that he's up to the task of taking over.
Associated Press writer Deanna Bellandi in Chicago contributed
to this report.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)