January 4th, 2009
12:33 PM ET
14 years ago

Reid on Burris: 'We are going to do what we have to do'

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/04/art.reidmtppt0104.gi.jpg caption="Sen. Reid said Sunday that he believes the Senate has the ultimate authority to decide who fills President-elect Obama's vacant seat."]
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.

Related: Constitutional fight looms over 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.”

Filed under: Harry Reid • Rod Blagojevich • Roland Burris
soundoff (76 Responses)
  1. CS

    Burris is a patsy. Anyone with any sense of integrity or dignity would stay far, far away from the endorsement of the disgraced Blagojevich. No matter how decent he seemed before the choice to accept such a tainted sponsorship, Burris has now squandered his capital. It's gone now, and he will always be seen as Blagojevich's patsy.

    Any humiliation he experiences in DC is of his own making. He asked for this, and if he goes to DC it will be because he is begging for it.

    What a shame, what a shame.

    January 4, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  2. Ernie in LA

    These people do not care about us. They are all about themselves. We should be as much, or more, concerned about every other politician we vote for as much as we are about the President.

    January 4, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  3. Godluvr

    As a dedicated PE Obama supporter, I hope and pray that the majority of Dems will not let Reid make a mockery of our party. It would be much easier to let this appointment stand, since it is legal, than to fight it. Let Mr. Burris serve out the remaining term, and then he can run for election on his own merits. The bathwater (Blago...) is dirty – not the baby (Burris), as far as I know. Please don't let the rules be changed because of innate biases. To make this a "Showdown at the DC coral, " will dampen the historic events surrounding our PE Obama, and cause a greater divide within the party.

    January 4, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  4. richard rohde

    That's it Harry just ignore the law, what ever happened in that ethics investigation of your land deals and lobbyist relatives? Kinda got swept under the carpet in 2006 didn't it.

    Blago is a sitting governor and has not been removed from office and has the right to appoint a senator. You do not have the right to refuse to seat him unless there is a question about him, not Blago. That is the law, old trial lawer. Read it.

    January 4, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  5. Mesa Mick

    Unlike most of those who post comments on this issue Reid sees thru the red herrings and straw men that Blago has forced into the public dialogue to distract away from his crimes.

    Don't be a Blogo chump 0 Don't seat Burris until someone other than Blago nominates him...

    January 4, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  6. tom l

    Remenber innocent untill found guilty. Burris should be seated because (1) he was not involved (2) Blagojevich is the governor (3) Illinois has not stripped him of his power to appoint a senator.

    January 4, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  7. California Gold

    There is more at hand than just the legality of the governor's ability to appoint. Part of the mess we are in (economy, mortgage, banking, investments, etc.) is because it was all "legal". Politics doesn't exist in a vacuum. He has been arrested, is out on bail this week he will be indicted. I'm glad some politicians step up and say, "We have a serious problem with this guy, his higher bidder mentality, his illegal activities, especially with this open senate seat." Blagojevich doesn't care about anyone but himself. But other politicians do care. As a voter I care. It's a greater issue.

    January 4, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  8. Proud American

    Don't let him sit down Mr. Reid.

    January 4, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  9. john q public

    Mr reid? not your pick ? UH OH sorry not your choice to change the rules to your liking. Go home and get a job as a cocktail waiter

    January 4, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  10. Debby

    Reid and his big mouth yet again. Why isn't he asked what accomplishments he has done as majority leader.

    January 4, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  11. Erik in Real Pennsylvania

    Until the governor of Illinois is impeached or resigns, the appointment of a replacement senator is his responsibility. If YOU were arrested, would you not object to your boss firing you and your spouse leaving you before your innocence was disproved in court (and impeachment proceedings ARE a court). Our nation upholds presumed innocence until a court finds one guilty, and no cop, prosecutor or media circus should be able to take that away.

    I would not be surprised if the governor of Illinois is found guilty of corruption, and/or impeached for this reason by his legislature. But I am troubled by how quickly the Senate wants to invalidate his responsibilities before these proceedings occur, because of popular media-encouraged sentiment.

    Mr. Burris should be seated in the Senate. If the Senate then chooses to expel him, as is their Constitutional right, they can whip up a 2/3 vote and do so.

    January 4, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  12. Texas Teacher

    Too bad for Burris, but I agree with Harry Reid. Blago has tainted the nomination. Get Blago out of the picture and begin again. If Burris is included in the nominees, fine! Then he can have the opportunity to prove himself, without the taint of the Blago reputation. I would not want to have that hanging over my head, if I were Burris. It shows a bit of desperation that he is pushing this the way he is. *shrug* what else can I say?

    January 4, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  13. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Reid is right and he is standing up for the integrity of the democrat party, it's not about the integrity of Burris and Burris should be intelligent enough to not accept Blago's appointment.

    January 4, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  14. billy-bayou

    Every time I see an image of Harry Reid I want to Vomit, and

    to quote Harry Reid,

    "I am who I am, and I have to call it the way I see it"

    I don't have the intestinal fortitude to tolerate maggots.

    January 4, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  15. Paying Attention in High School History

    The solution should be based on the Constitution, not based on compromises. The word 'compromise' brings warm and fuzzy feelings inside everyone but it's not always the right thing to do.

    January 4, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  16. Andrew, IL

    People can be biased about Reid all they want, but he did make his point clear in the interview and pointed out why they can't seat Burris the way it is now.

    January 4, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  17. This is your time Mr. Reid

    show us something, clean up the Bush mess, the dirty politics

    January 4, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  18. j

    Reid is a pompus corrupt politician. He will be voted out soon.

    January 4, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  19. CommonSense

    "… Democrats and Republicans determine who is going to sit in the Senate,” the Senate's leading Democrat said.

    That's where's Reid's "logic" is tainted.

    January 4, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  20. Sherrol in Canada

    Good to see that Reid might be in the mood to negotiate. If he doesn't find a way this could lead to a messy undertaking.

    January 4, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  21. neil

    I guess after the lack of success of the democraticaly controlled senate along with the Bush administration would make Reid the worst senate leader ever, look in the mirror Harry

    January 4, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  22. Harry Reid

    The seat is lost.

    January 4, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  23. Larry in Illinois

    In order to make it right either impeach Blagojevich and let our new governor Quinn make the appointment or hold an election. Burris can be choosen by Quinn or run for elction. I wouldn't want to be connected to Blagojevich if i was him.

    January 4, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  24. paul oregon

    is this america or do polticians just make up the rules as they like
    i thinl reid has been in office to long when his likes an dislikes rule his judgement!!!!! why is it up to reid to determmen if burris unfit for the senate. something smells fishy

    January 4, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  25. ERD in NC

    It blows my mind that Burris didn't just refuse to accept the nomination until the governor's situation sorts itself out. Regardless of what happens with Blagojevich's alleged crimes, if Burris does take the seat his name will be tainted as long as he is a senator.

    January 4, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
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