WASHINGTON (CNN) - CNN spoke with Senate historian Don Ritchie earlier this month about what could happen if Gov. Rod Blagojevich were to appoint someone to fill President-elect Barack Obama's Senate seat:
"The Constitution gives the Senate the ultimate authority to decide the qualifications of any of its members," Ritchie said.
TEXT: This is under Article 1, Section 5 which states "Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members..."
WHEN? The Senate can only react after someone has presented a certificate of appointment. And then, refusal must of course come as a vote.
ST. PAUL, Minnesota (CNN) - Democrat Al Franken maintained his slim lead of 50 votes Tuesday as Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and the state canvassing board allocated the remainder of what was approximately 6,000 ballots that had - at one point or another - been challenged by both campaigns.
"If there are any nits to be picked, they've been picked," said board member and Minnesota State Supreme Court Chief Justice Eric Magnuson as the board adjourned.
In a statement, Franken himself said, "As it appears that we're on track to win, I want Minnesotans to know that I'm ready to get to work for them in Washington on day one."
Coleman campaign attorney Tony Trimble called Franken's double digit lead "artificial" and maintained there is still a long way to go in the counting process, specifically because a large number of improperly rejected absentee ballots have yet to be tallied.
CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) - Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is expected Tuesday to name former Illinois Atty. Gen. Roland Burris to replace President-elect Barack Obama in the U.S. Senate, CNN affiliates the Chicago Tribune and WLS TV reported, citing sources familiar with the decision.
Blagojevich, who has been the target of an ongoing federal investigation, is to announce his choice at a news conference at 2 p.m. local time.
FBI agents arrested Blagojevich on December 9 after federal prosecutors alleged, among other things, that he had tried to "sell" Obama's former Senate seat. Blagojevich denies any wrongdoing.
Burris does not have to be formally approved by the Senate to be appointed by Blagojevich. But the Senate could refuse to seat Burris or seat him and investigate the manner in which he was appointed, and unseat him if they discover any wrongdoing.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, has threatened not to seat anyone the governor appoints, and has called for the Illinois Democrat to step down.
(updated 1:10 p.m. with additoinal information)
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - For many cash-strapped workers, Barack Obama's plan to stimulate the economy could mean more take-home money in their paychecks.
While details remain unclear, the president-elect's recovery proposal is likely to include a tax cut to boost spending. Exactly how much of a break that could mean for workers depends on how the tax cut is structured.
But back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest in some scenarios it could be anywhere from an extra $83 to $166 per paycheck during the first quarter of the year.
David Axelrod, a top adviser to Obama speaking Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," said Obama had promised a middle class tax cut and that his economic recovery package will include "a portion of a tax cut that will become part of the permanent tax cut he'll have in his upcoming budget."
Click here to read the full story on CNNMoney.com
(CNN) - The former U.S. special envoy to the Middle East said Tuesday that President-elect Barack Obama should engage with Hamas under certain conditions, and sooner rather than later.
Retired Gen. Anthony Zinni said if Obama hopes to forge a peace deal, he needs to do it at the beginning of his administration.
"You make a commitment that no matter what happens, you'll stick with it," Zinni said on CNN's "American Morning." "We have enough agreements in principle that never worked out. I would say - start from the beginning, be determined, stick with it and don't repeat the mistakes of the past and the processes of the past that did not work."
In order for the new administration to engage with Hamas, Zinni said the militant group must be willing to end its rocket attacks and violence against Israel and commit to a peace process.
In the long term, Zinni said, the next administration will have to take a new approach in dealing with the problem.
"The old way of using envoys and summits and us putting plans on the table - that has never worked. I think we need a fresh start, more involved, a greater presence on the ground and a commitment to do it throughout the term of an administration," Zinni said.
Bristol Palin, the 18-year-old daughter of former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, gave birth on Saturday to a healthy 7 lb., 7 oz., baby boy in Palmer, Alaska.
"We think it's wonderful," said Colleen Jones, the sister of Bristol's grandmother Sally Heath, who confirmed the news. "The baby is fine and Bristol is doing well. Everyone is excited."
The baby's name is Tripp Easton Mitchell Johnston and he was born at 5:30 a.m., according to Jones.
Baby Tripp takes his surname from his dad, Levi Johnston, an apprentice electrician and former Wasilla High School hockey player who has been dating Bristol for three years.
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) - The trial of an Iraqi journalist charged with throwing his shoes at U.S. President George Bush has been postponed, Iraq's Council of Ministers and one of the journalist's lawyers said Tuesday.
Muntadhir Al-Zaidi was due to go on trial Wednesday, but the Criminal Court postponed it pending an appeal filed by his lawyers with the Federal Court of Appeal, a spokesman for the Supreme Judicial Council, Abdul Sattar Bayrakdar, said.
Dhiya al-Saadi, who leads Al-Zaidi's 25-member legal team, confirmed the postponement.
Al-Zaidi threw both of his shoes at Bush two weeks ago during a news conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Baghdad. Neither shoe hit the president, and others in the room quickly knocked Al-Zaidi to the ground before security officials arrested him.
Many Iraqis hail Al-Zaidi, who faces a prison term if convicted, as a hero. More than 1,000 lawyers have volunteered to defend him, al-Saadi said.
The lawyers' appeal asked the Federal Court to change Al-Zaidi's case from assaulting Bush to insulting him. If Al-Zaidi is convicted of the former, he faces a maximum of 15 years in prison, al-Saadi said.
The lawyers are trying to persuade the appeals court that Al-Zaidi did not want to harm Bush by throwing the shoes, but simply wanted to insult him. By tradition, throwing a shoe is the most insulting act in the Arab world.
Al-Saadi said he met with his client several days ago but was having difficulty meeting with him again. He did not give the reason he was not allowed to see Al-Zaidi but said many lawyers have trouble meeting with detainees in Iraqi or U.S. custody.
It will take at least two weeks for the court to set a new date for Al-Zaidi's trial, legal expert Tariz Harab said.
–CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.
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CNN: First-of-its-kind RNC meeting to be held in Washington
Members of the Republican National Committee are planning to hold a Washington forum for candidates to lead the party – the first time they have held an official meeting not arranged by the national party.
CNN: Prosecutors may release some Blagojevich tapes to IL lawmakers
U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald is seeking court approval to provide Illinois lawmakers with partial tapes of four of Gov. Rod Blagojevich's wiretapped phone conversations.