[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/12/16/art.jjbow1216.gi.jpg caption="Sources close to Rep. Jackson, Jr. told CNN Tuesday that the Illinois congressman has supplied information regarding Gov. Blagojevich to federal law enforcement officials since 2006."]SPRINGFIELD, Illinois (CNN) - Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. - who was cited in a criminal complaint against Rod Blagojevich - has been an informant for at least a decade with the U.S. Attorney's office, and has informed on the embattled governor of Illinois, though not in the case currently under investigation, Jackson spokesman Kenneth Edmonds told CNN Tuesday.
In addition, two sources close to Jackson told CNN that, in 2002, Blagojevich - then running for governor of Illinois - solicited a $25,000 campaign donation from Jackson, which he did not get.
At the time, Jackson's wife, Sandi, was a candidate for the job of director of the state's Lottery Commission, a post she did not win, the sources said.
After Blagojevich took office, in early 2003, he told Jackson something to the effect of, "You see what $25,000 would have done?" the sources said.
In 2006, Jackson reported the incident, which he believed to have been an attempt at a shakedown, the sources said.
The report, the sources said, came three three years later because Jackson's memory was jogged by another case - that of developer Tony Rezko, whose fraud and corruption trial included testimony about $25,000 donations to Blagojevich.
Jackson did not endorse Blagojevich in his initial campaign and tried to stay on the sidelines during the governor's re-election bid, one of the sources said.
Blagojevich's office did not return calls seeking comment.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell and Texas Republican Party Chair Tina Benkiser announced Tuesday they will run on the same ticket in the race to head the Republican National Committee.
Blackwell would serve as chair and Benkiser would be the co-chair, according to letters sent to RNC members. The RNC will convene next month to select the new leader of the national party.
Full letters after the jump
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/12/16/art.vilsacklean1216.gi.jpg caption="Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack will be named as President-elect Obama's choice to head the Department of Agriculture."]
CHICAGO (CNN) - President-elect Barack Obama will name former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack as his secretary of Agriculture at a news conference scheduled for Wednesday, according to an Obama transition aide and a separate Democratic source.
Vilsack was a high profile supporter of Hillary Clinton during the presidential primaries after he briefly sought the Democratic presidential nomination.
Obama and Vilsack were rivals for the Democratic nomination for just under two weeks.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/12/16/art.mncount1216.cnn.jpg caption="A canvassing board met Tuesday in Minnesota to review ballots in the state's very tight race for a U.S. Senate seat up for grabs"]
ST. PAUL, Minnesota (CNN) - While the official hand recount in Minnesota's tight U.S. Senate race between incumbent Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken has ended, a stack of about 1,500 challenged ballots means the announcement of a winner is still at least a few days away.
Secretary of State Mark Ritchie's canvassing board, which includes Ritchie, two state Supreme Court judges and two Ramsey County judges, began reviewing the questioned ballots at noon Tuesday in an effort to determine each voter's intent.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/12/16/art.perino.gi.jpg caption="Perino joked reporters are no longer able to wear shoes to press conferences."]
(CNN) - Who knew being White House press secretary was such a dangerous job?
While President Bush emerged from the weekend's now-infamous shoe attack in Iraq without a scratch, press secretary Dana Perino appears to be a little worse for wear.
Perino was sitting to the side of the president when an Iraqi journalist threw his shoes at him Sunday. She was inadvertently hit by a microphone as the president's Secret Service agents responded and officials scrambled to wrestle the journalist to the ground.
Watch: Bush ducks shoes in Iraq
The full effects of the accident were clear at Tuesday's White House daily briefing, where Perino sported a bruise below her right eye and scratch just above the eyebrow.
"The shoe check-in and check-out policy will begin tomorrow," Perino joked.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/TECH/12/16/inauguration.phones/art.cellphone.afp.gi.jpg caption="Wireless carriers in the D.C.-metro area are preparing for a massive cell phone traffic gridlock on Inauguration Day."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Hundreds of thousands of Americans are planning to converge on the National Mall to witness the historic moment when Barack Obama takes the oath of office and becomes the nation's first African-American president.
But if they plan to share pictures or video of the moment Obama utters "so help me God," with friends and family using their mobile phones, they may have to wait.
And wait... and wait... and wait.
The cell systems around the National Mall will be overloaded if the expected record crowds actually materialize, according to a spokesman for CTIA, the association representing wireless carriers. All those phone calls, texts, picture and video messages will hit a log jam.
"It'll be like everyone leaving the beach at the same time after the Fourth of July," said Joe Farren. "All roads will come to a standstill."
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/12/16/art.carolinewave1216.gi.jpg caption="Senate Leader Harry Reid has thrown his support behind Caroline Kennedy in her bid to replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is backing Caroline Kennedy to replace Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton as the next senator from New York.
Watch: Reid on Kennedy
The majority leader told Nevada Political analyst Jon Ralston Tuesday that he personally called New York Gov. David Paterson urging him to appoint Kennedy to the seat.
“She's 52 years old,” Reid said in an interview on Ralston’s Nevada-based television show ‘Face-to-Face.’ “I've spoken to her. She was part of a vetting process for vice presidential choices for Obama. She's lived in government and politics her whole life. I think it would be a tremendous thing....We have a lot of stars from New York. Bobby Kennedy. Hillary Clinton. I think Caroline Kennedy would be perfect. “
When asked by Ralston if he planned on calling the governor, Reid answered, “I already have.”
A Reid spokesman confirms to CNN that the majority leader called Paterson last week expressing his support for Kennedy.
But even as Reid is supporting Kennedy for Senate, some Clinton supporters aren't so enthusiastic - including Rep. Anthony Weiner and Robert Zimmerman - a CNN contributor, DNC member and Clinton supporter.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/12/16/art.coleman1216.gi.jpg caption="CNN has learned that Sen. Norm Coleman has hired a defense attorney to represent him in two lawsuits against one of Coleman's supporters."]
ST. PAUL, Minnesota (CNN) – Sen. Norm Coleman has hired top Minneapolis-based defense attorney Douglas Kelley to assist with two lawsuits connected to the senator, a representative with Kelley’s office confirmed to CNN.
Coleman, a Minnesota Republican, is fighting to win a second term to the Senate and is currently in the middle of a recount with Democratic challenger Al Franken.
The pair of similar lawsuits accuse wealthy businessman and Coleman supporter Nasser Kazeminy of funneling approximately $75,000 to the senator through his wife Laurie Coleman.
Coleman spokesman Luke Friedrich said he considers these to be "baseless allegations that are nothing more than political and financial extortion."
Friedrich added that Sen. Coleman has retained counsel "to work cooperatively with authorities when such an investigation is conducted, and to quickly expose these allegations for what they are, and to hold those who made these false allegations against the Senator accountable."
"To this date the Senator, nor his legal counsel, have been informed that any such investigation is underway," he said in the statement.
Kazeminy will be represented by fellow well-known Minneapolis-based attorney Joe Friedberg, a representative of his office confirmed to CNN.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune also reports that Mrs. Coleman has also hired her own defense lawyer.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/12/16/art.bushsign1216.gi.jpg caption="Pres. Bush signed an agreement with the Iraqi government in Baghdad Sunday."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - As President Bush prepares to leave office and looks back over his tenure, he Tuesday continued to stand firmly by his decision to go to war in Iraq, calling the decision to send troops into harm's way the most important one he made he has made in the Oval Office.
"I listened to a lot of people before we went into Iraq. And I listened to a lot of people, including in my own administration, who said, 'it's just not working. Let's get out.' And I listened very carefully to them. And obviously, came to a different conclusion," President Bush told CNN's Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley during a tour of the Oval Office.
While he did not want to revisit his decision to go to war, Bush he was ultimately concerned about "whether or not we would succeed."
"I have worried about it in the past, in 2006 in particular. In Iraq, I was deeply concerned about whether or not we would succeed," he said. "A lot of people in Washington, were saying, let's get out now. And I obviously chose not to do that. But, that was a very difficult period," he said.
The president said he "considered all options" when it came to Iraq and contemplated leaving but said, "I could not live with myself, if I had chosen to just leave and leave behind the valor and the sacrifice of a lot of our young men and women. I would have never been able to face their loved ones."
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/12/16/art.blagorncvid.yt.jpg caption="Newt Gingrich told the RNC Tuesday that it should immediately pull down a web video featuring President-elect Obama and Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich."]
(CNN) – Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich isn’t happy with the Republican National Committee.
In a letter addressed Tuesday to Mike Duncan, chairman of the RNC, Gingrich slams the committee for releasing a recent Web video that seeks to connect Obama to embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
In a nearly three-minute spot entitled “Questions Remain,” the RNC seeks to raise questions about involvement by Obama or his staff in Blagojevich’s alleged plan to award Obama’s former Senate seat in exchange for political favors.
Gingrich calls the video a “destructive distraction” and asserts that the national committee “is engaged in the sort of negative, attack politics that the voters rejected in the 2006 and 2008 election cycles.”
Instead, “Republicans should be working to help the incoming president succeed in meeting” the “real challenges” the nation is facing, Gingrich writes to Duncan. When Republicans believe Obama is wrong, the GOP should “offer a better solution, instead of just opposing him,” Gingrich also wrote.
The letter ends with Gingrich’s suggestion that the RNC “pull the ad down immediately.”
Gingrich’s letter echoes recent comments from Obama’s former rival, Sen. John McCain. In a television interview Sunday, McCain also took issue with the video.
“In all due respect to the Republican National Committee,” McCain said, “right now, I think we should try to be working constructively together . . . on the economy stimulus package, reforms that are necessary.”
The RNC has not responded to CNN’s request for comment