WASHINGTON (CNN) – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D Nevada, is not pulling any punches in what is increasingly shaping up to be a likely confrontation between Senate Democrats and Roland Burris, who has been named by embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich to fill President-elect Barack Obama’s Senate seat.
“Blagojevich obviously is a corrupt individual. I think that’s pretty clear. And the reason that he’s done what he’s done is to divert attention from the arrest that was just made of him and the indictments that will be coming in a few days according to the U.S. attorney in Illinois,” Reid said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“There is a cloud over Blagojevich and, at this stage, a cloud over the state of Illinois … As long as Blagojevich has done the appointing, it’s really a tainted appointment.”
Reid said Blagojevich should step down and then Illinois Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn could name someone – including Burris - to fill Obama’s Senate seat.
Asked whether he would refuse to seat Burris should he try to claim a seat in the Senate, Reid responded, “We are going to do what we have to do.”
“We’re going to follow all legal precedents ... We’re pretty clear on what we believe is the law and the precedent in the United States Senate ... Democrats and Republicans determine who is going to sit in the Senate,” the Senate's leading Democrat said.
But, Reid left the door open to a possible compromise resolution that might avert a confrontation with Burris and a growing grassroots effort led by some black politicians and community leaders in Illinois.
Reid said he plans to meet Wednesday with Burris and Illinois’ sitting senator, Richard Durbin.
“I’m an old trial lawyer,” he told NBC’s David Gregory. “There’s always room to negotiate.”