WASHINGTON (CNN) – The man with the sole authority to appoint a senator to replace Barack Obama was arrested Tuesday, shaking up the process to fill the president-elect's former Senate seat.
FBI agents took Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich into custody, arresting him on federal corruption charges in part related to the selection of Obama's successor in the U.S. Senate.
U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald calls the corruption charges "a truly new low," and the news calls into question how Obama's former seat will now be filled.
Blagojevich, like Obama, is a Democrat. He has maintained since last month that his decision will not be made in haste, and he wants “to ensure that Obama’s successor will understand and fight for the needs of average Illinoisans.”
But the clock is ticking on naming of a successor, considering will be sworn in on January 6th.
The big question now is will Blagojevich retain the right to name Obama's successor even if he remains in custody or even under indictment? The answer is yes, according to Fitzgerald.
CNN also reached out to Jay Stewart, executive director of Chicago's Better Government Association. Stewart agrees that Blagojevich retains the right to fill the senate vacancy until he's out of office, which wouldn't happen unless he quits or is removed from office by impeachment.
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Gore and Obama are meeting in Chicago Tuesday. (Getty Images)
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A spokeswoman for Al Gore says the former vice president is not meeting Tuesday with President-elect Barack Obama about a position in his administration.
The meeting between Obama, Gore and Vice President-elect Joe Biden had unleashed speculation about Gore's role in an Obama White House.
The Obama transition office said Monday that the meeting would focus on issues relating to energy and climate change and how the new administration's environmental policies can spur job creation.
Democratic officials have said Obama is not looking to tap Gore for a Cabinet-level post or any other position in the administration.
(CNN) - The State Department is staying mum when it comes to the details of Sen. Hillary Clinton's private dinner with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Monday night.
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the two met for two hours at Rice's Watergate apartment in downtown Washington, and discussed a range of issues.
"They talked just very generally about policy – the challenges, the opportunities, talked a little bit about the job of secretary of state; talked about the quote-unquote 'building' here – managing a big operation," McCormack said.
But McCormack declined to get into specifics, saying instead he expects Clinton and Rice to hold several more meetings.
NEW YORK (CNN) - Actress Fran Drescher has expressed interest in being appointed to the U.S. Senate seat that New York's Hillary Clinton is giving up to become secretary of state, a spokesman for the actress said.
"Fran Drescher, actress, women's health advocate and public diplomacy envoy for the U.S. State Department, announced that she is throwing her hat into the ring of contenders for the senate seat being vacated by Secretary of State-designate Hillary Rodham Clinton," Drescher spokesman Jordan Brown told CNN in a written statement late Monday.
Drescher, 51, is best known for her starring role in the 1990s television comedy "The Nanny" and an adenoidal voice that could strip the rust off an engine block - a talent that might come in handy during a Senate filibuster.
(CNN) - The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Tuesday rejected Sen. Larry Craig's effort to withdraw his guilty plea in a sex-sting operation.
CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) - FBI agents arrested Democratic Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich Tuesday on federal corruption charges, the U.S. attorney's office said.
The governor's chief of staff, John Harris, was also arrested on corruption charges.
The government says the two were "conspiring to obtain personal financial benefits" for the Illinois governor by leveraging his authority to appoint a U.S. senator. Blagojevich has the sole power to appoint a successor to the senate seat being vacated by President-elect Barack Obama. The U.S. attorney alleges Harris and Blagojevich are "engaging in ongoing criminal activity."
CNN's Short List: Who could replace Obama in the Senate?
Blagojevich and Harris will appear later Tuesday in court, the attorney's office said.
(CNN) - Mega-preacher and best-selling author Joel Osteen is putting his faith in Barack Obama.
Asked his thoughts on the president-elect, Osteen said, “I think he’s great.”
“I think he's going to be a great president. He seems brilliant to me and just, I believe God puts the right people in office, so we're praying for him and just believing that God will give him wisdom and strength,” Osteen said on CNN’s “Larry King Live.”
Osteen is the senior pastor for Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. The church is one of the largest and fastest growing in the United States.
Shortly before the presidential election, Osteen told CNN he doesn’t think it is right to preach politics from the pulpit.
“You know, people have different views, and they're just as passionate. They love God just as much. And so, I would just encourage … just get out there and vote. But we don't feel like it's our place to tell people how to vote. Just search their own heart,” he said.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A new national poll suggests that Barack Obama's having one heck of a honeymoon.
Nearly eight in ten Americans questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey out Tuesday morning are giving the president-elect the thumbs up when it comes to his handling of the transition. Seventy-nine percent approve of Obama's performance so far during transition, with 18 percent disapproving.
Obama's approval rating is "14 points higher than the approval rating for president-elect Bush in 2001 and 17 points higher than president-elect Clinton's rating in 1992," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland noted.
The president-elect's current approval rating is also more than 50 points higher than Bush's current approval rating, which now stands at 28 percent, with 71 percent disapproving of the way Bush is handling his job as president.
"An Obama job approval rating of 79 percent! That’s the sort of rating you see when the public rallies around a leader after a national disaster. To many Americans, the Bush Administration was a national disaster," says CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider.
The poll also indicates that 79 percent of the public thinks Obama will do a good job as president. That's up 4 points from last month. Eighteen percent think Obama will do a poor job as president, down 3 points from November.
CNN: Obama meeting with Gore raises eyebrows
Former Vice President Al Gore is set to meet with President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden Tuesday, leading to speculation Obama is eyeing Gore for a slot in his administration.
CNN: First Vietnamese-American elected to House 'speechless'
The Louisiana man who Saturday became the first Vietnamese-American elected to the House says he hopes his win will push more young people to become politically active.
CNN: Palin didn't snub Oprah, spokesman says
Sarah Palin's camp is denying claims she's is snubbing talk show host Oprah Winfrey, telling CNN Monday the decision was "nothing personal" — the Alaska governor has just been flooded with so many media requests she simply hasn't had the time to sit down with the daytime talk show icon.
CNN: King named new host of CNN's public affairs show
CNN Chief National Correspondent John King is set to take the helm a new four-hour Sunday block of political programming, CNN announced Monday.
CNN: Rove vows to 'name names'
Enemies of President Bush take heed: Karl Rove is set to name names.
CNN: Obama still to fill key positions, possibly with Republicans
President-elect Barack Obama's team has pledged to appoint Republicans to his administration, but so far, just one Republican is set to hold a leading Cabinet post.