CHICAGO - The lieutenant governor of Illinois said yesterday that he is certain that scandal-plagued Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich will be out of office in less than two months.
Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, speaking from Chicago, said on CBS's
Face the Nation
that he believes Blagojevich will be impeached and convicted by the Illinois legislature before Abraham Lincoln's bicentennial birthday celebration on Feb. 12.
Blagojevich was arrested Dec. 9 on charges that he schemed to swap President-elect Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat for profit, shook down a hospital executive for campaign donations and engaged in other wrongdoing. The governor has declared his innocence and says he will fight the charges.
Quinn described Blagojevich as "isolated" in his decision-making and surrounded by a "tight palace guard" that "tells him what he wants to hear and not what he needs to know."
He needs to know "he's disgraced himself, he's disgraced the people of Illinois," Quinn said.
The lieutenant governor said he hasn't spoken to Blagojevich since August 2007.
Quinn would become governor if Blagojevich leaves office. He said he would call for a special election to fill Obama's seat.
The Illinois House committee investigating the possibility of impeachment is scheduled to meet again today. The panel rejected a request from the governor's attorney to subpoena two top advisers to Obama, the committee's chairwoman, Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, a Chicago Democrat, said Saturday.
If the state House approves impeaching Blagojevich, the state Senate would hold a trial. It would take a two-thirds vote to remove him from office.
Quinn said yesterday that far more than the required two-thirds of the state's senators are ready to vote for impeachment.
Blagojevich has not given any indication that he will resign. He has been going to work and signing legislation since the charges were announced.
Yesterday, Blagojevich approved $2 million in grants for a statewide program that adds ramps and chair lifts for low-income seniors and people with disabilities.