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. Juanita Stone

    I agree with Reid, Burris should not be appointed to the senate the circumstances surrounding his selection are questionable. Sure Burris states that he has no involvement in Blagojevich's past actions but I find him to be to accepting of this nomination, how do we know he didn't pay for it. I honestly believe that the laws need to be changed so thaht if any politician is suspected of any wrongdoings thier powers of office need to be strickened until they are proved innocent or guilty. Blagojevich is a crook , that's obvious and selecting Burris was just another way for him to throw salt in the wound of his accussers, poor Burris he wants the position so badly thath he appears desperate and it seems that because of this reason he is willing to do anything to keep it, that is obvious by his many interviews and his arrogance.

    January 4, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  2. Kim

    Blagojevich is using Burris. Anyone can see that.

    January 4, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  3. Reality

    Reid is basically saying "I do not CARE what the LAW is, I do not believe that a person is innocent until PROVEN guilty, I believe I am ABOVE THE LAW, and I will run Congress HOW I SEE FIT."

    What a loon. America needs to impeach this guy.

    January 4, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  4. Dave, Central Illinois

    Another great Reid moment. Reid says that the Senate determines who sits in the Senate. Hmm, I always though the voters did that and governors between elections. The Senate has no authority on this unless the Senator has commited a crime or has shown gross incompetance. Reid and Pelosi – Dumb and Dumber.

    January 4, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  5. La Chatte

    Heh, heh, heh. Blago owns the chessboard!

    January 4, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  6. Clinton Supporter

    So I see Tubby had to withdraw. Isn't that a shame. What goes around comes around. I'm sure Bill Clinton is having a good laugh, I certainly hope so. I know I am!

    Turns out Richardson preferred Barack and his sleazy Illinois friends to Hillary Clinton. And how right he was to "stick with his own kind." Definitely not Hillary's type at all.

    There will be overwhelming silence from the Clinton camp, but personally, I'm hoping Carville says something so I can have another good laugh. He did hint that we were not through with scandals among the Democratic "leadership."

    Now I wish someone would go after Howard Dean. I guess I'll have to be satisfied with the Blagojevich nonsense for the moment. Sooner or later, the ways in which Barack himself got dirty hands will come out, too.

    I'm patient. I can wait.

    January 4, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  7. casper

    maybe reid should also step down.

    January 4, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  8. If Burris does show--he has to go!!!!

    Send Burris back to his buddy Blago with a note attached to his collar:
    "I'm tainted."

    January 4, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  9. Rick in L.A.

    More than his legacy in the U.S., Bush has changed the image of what America and being an American means to the rest of the world. Never have so many citizens of other countries looked down on us, seeing us a perpetrator of war, greed and self indulgence. These people will not sympathize with terrorists against us. Bush has let us down.

    January 4, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  10. Mark

    Maybe he picked him on purpose to prove a point. Everyone thinks he is corrupt so he picks the absolute best candidate who is not tainted in anyway to make those who want to bring him down look even worse. Think about it , you are about to be charged but innocent until proven guilty so why not pick someone so qualified that it makes them look like the bad guys before he has his day in court, he made the best choice to prove a point even if he is guilty it was a perfect play to look good before the @#%$ hits the fan now the dems look like idiots to the rest of america and look like they can't get it right in their own party..... come on, refuse to let such a qualified individual in the building? thats pathetic and childish get it together dems the world is watching, quit trying to make it so hard to root for you!

    January 4, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  11. mb-texas

    Democrats messing up again.Remember Florida-Michigan.
    Reid needs back off not ,much of a leader ,not seating Burris
    because of his dislike for Blagojevich.

    January 4, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  12. DWoods

    Burris, because of the connection to Blago should not be seated. The Senate seat should be determined by a special election or by the Lt. Gov. Blago is trying very hard to divert attention to Burris and the Dems. Furthermore, I think Rush was totally out of line when he requested that an African American fill the seat. I recall one election where an African American was running against a White opponent and Rush voted for the White candidate. I am African American and I call them like I see them. Right vs Wrong, not Black vs White.

    January 4, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  13. Palin in 2012

    Roland Burris may have integrity, according to Blagojevich. But to bestow the title of integrity upon someone, the bestower must also have integrity. Governor Blagojevich does not have integrity. By taking the appointment, Mr. Burris is just as tainted as the Governor. Mr. Burris cannot be trusted because of choice to accept the appointment.

    January 4, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  14. Helen, VT

    Hey Harry.. Go away. Nobody is listening to you.
    Proud American (I am not proud of him because he is a radical liberal) and Texas Teacher (I think she has no job) are on your side, nobody else.

    January 4, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  15. FreeNLovIt

    We need to clean up the process to stop good men from turning bad. They are following the invisible laws of the land.

    January 4, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  16. Oh No!

    To Erik in Real Pennsylvania:

    Your analogy is wrong. The analogy is if you were getting a divorce would you want to have the judge that is banging your wife be the same one presiding over your divorce? Of course not.

    Blago can still function as the governor if he recuses himself from this one issue since it is related to the charges against him (regardless if he is innocent or not). It is the perception of impropriety that you must be concerned for the benefit of the people of Illinois. Obviously Blago is pretty self-centered and really does not give a heep about the people of Illlinois. Burris' decision to accept makes me wonder if his integrity is actual or just an illusion. But, at the end of the day, the people of Illinois are going to have to decide the quality and character of their representatives not us.

    January 4, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  17. MorningStar

    Late president Nixon did worst for the country, but all the judges he appointed were seated.

    President Clinton was impeached but all his appointees sat...

    Why should America use different standards when it comes to the governor of Illinois?

    Reid, get lost! You want to choose and pick who should or should not be a senator from Illinois. It is none of your business. The governor of Illinois is innocent until proven guilty, until that time, he has the constitutional right in Illinois to appoint a senator to replace Barack Obama. You may no like it, but this is the way it is. You will not be able to change that. This man will be seated. It is just a matter of time...

    January 4, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  18. Dave

    Reid's statement regarding the appointment of Burris is a perfect example of judging a person by the company they keep. It goes a long way to support the belief that many politicians serve as choke points to actual inspired leadership among their peers. Illinois is dying and all some politicians can think of is how best to display the typical negitive thinking process that has helped push Ilinois to its knees.

    January 4, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  19. ml - California

    Reid, does it give you satisfaction to act like a "tough guy". Whether Burris is right or wrong, you might consider changing your image of SCROOGE to a civilized and profession human being!

    January 4, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  20. clifford

    Don't forget what Uncle Harry Reid said about the public tours through the capital."You can smell the tourists when they come through"! Nice!! What a moron!

    January 4, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  21. End Of An Error

    Unfortunately for Burris, his nomination is tainted. He should man-up and stand up for what is right by voluntarily going on inactive status to block Blagojavich from any more political maneuvering.

    I would think if Burris was to help corral this corrupt governor, he would stand a good chance of being picked by Blagojavich's successor.

    If it goes to election, his morals and actions in blocking Balgojavich would probably go a long way to helping him win.

    But to try to capitalize on Blago's tainted appointment will only leave Burris tainted as well. It's an empty and hollow victory. If it's even a victory.

    January 4, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  22. rich

    Does Reid really think that the Senate can refuse to seat a qualified person? He will lose in court and he should know that. He shopuld spend more time thinking about how to get legislation through the Senate with a bunch of republican fundamentalists on the other side.

    January 4, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  23. Joyce

    Don't forget the whole cause of this problem is Blagojevich. As an Illinois resident, I strongly believe Blagojevich should not be allowed to make any important decisions or appointments while he is under investigation...remember, he is out on bail! Burris should have been smart enough to realize he is being used as a diversionary tactic. Unfortunately, Mr. Burris is allowing his strong desire to be senator (prestige, good salary, great pension) to affect his decision making.
    If Illiinois has only one Senator for a month or two, so be it! It is better than having a tainted one!

    I do not like Harry Reid...haven't for a long time. But, I do support his decision not to seat anybody appointed by Blagojevich. And let's all forget the race issue because it is not pertinent in this matter.

    January 4, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  24. TKD

    Reid's contiuing insistence that senators are legally empowered to determine who will sit in the Senate (not just to determine whether they meet constitutional requirements, but the power to reject them for any number of other reasons as well) is bad law, bad government, and bad politics. It's directly contrary to the Supreme Court ruling in the Powell case; it creates a nightmare situation in which the Senate could become a self-selecting, self-perpetuating oligarchy; and it's insulting voters, who are quite able to understand that accepting Blagojevich's legally chosen nominee to the Senate is not the same thing as participating in Blagojevich's crimes. The drive to block Burris is a huge mistake and a huge waste of time. Reid and his team need to "negotiate" their way out of this, and move on with the important business of the country.

    January 4, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  25. Sean

    Wow- Henry Reid and the Democrats get a stiff spine when it comes to opposing a qualified candidate who has been legally appointed to fill a vacant seat in the Senate? Hey Harry, where was your spine for the last 8 YEARS?!!!!

    January 4, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
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