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. New Yorker

    Farrell in Houston, "integrity of the democratic party?" Who are you trying to kid? 1/2 your party still thinks Bill Clinton was a man of integrity. Get a dictionary.

    January 4, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  2. Proud American

    Mr. Reid your the leader of the Senate and all Americans will accept whatever decision you make. We love the fact that your one of the few in Washington with a brain.

    January 4, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  3. chris@stl

    Burris shouldn't have accepted the nomination from he corrupt governor for the sake of IL and he integrity of political process of this country.

    January 4, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  4. Steve-NH

    It's mind boggling that this guy is in a position of prominence within government...disregard the law, disregard logic and he has the nerve to rate/rank presidents!!! Time for a REAL change folks...

    January 4, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  5. chris@stl

    The constitution need to be amended to address this sort of appointments from happening in the future.

    January 4, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  6. Hammer

    And you can believe old Harry knows corrupt when he sees it, been corrupt all his life!
    But from the looks of the news the last few days corruption is just the Democratic way.

    January 4, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  7. Jim in Ohio

    What's it say about Burris if he accepts the nomination from a corrupt Governor? One must question his judgement if not his moral ethics.

    January 4, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  8. No Hillary = No Obama

    Well, Obama's presidency will be off to a smeared start. His senate seat had a price tag and is soiled, his pick for Secretary of Commerce had a price tag and now he's out and you know things come in three's – so let's wait and see what the 3rd thing will be before January 20th.

    January 4, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  9. Independant Vet




    January 4, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  10. JJ

    Reid is corrupt and has carried a lower rating than President Bush since taking leadership of the enate in 2006. He should be hung for treason. Please remember "The war is lost, the surge has failed." Treasonous Bastard!

    January 4, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  11. Fritz

    Sadly, Blagojevich is still the governor and as such, he legally can appoint someone. Burris is right that the appointment is legit, and I don't think anyone is arguing this. However, Burris realizes the nature of the nomination and I believe that in all good conscience he should not have accepted. He clearly feels he has earned and deserves this appointment and that his time has come and this has clouded his judgment about making the best ethical decision and doing what is in the best interest of the people. And the people of Illinois do deserve representation as soon as possible but they also deserve a senator whose appointment does not come under a shroud of suspicion and dishonesty.

    January 4, 2009 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  12. Peggy the Unemployed

    Burris appears to be perfectly qualified to be Senator. It's a shame his nomination is tainted. Previously was he a possible candidate or did this just come about after the scandal. He seems to be a respected person.

    January 4, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  13. Dave

    You know Roland Martin said right they should have a special election that would solve this mess. Now the Dems are between a rock and a hard spot.

    January 4, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  14. Mike in Texas

    Why do people keep saying Burris is a qualified candidate? He's been a mediocre player from day one, and he is shamefully pushing his nomination regardless of the black cloud under which it was made. Even Obama doesn't want him. Kick Burris out!

    January 4, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  15. cindy

    perhpas mr reid shoudl look himself in the mirror. he surely has a lot of gull talking about our current sitting president this way. mr reid is not one to be talking.

    January 4, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  16. markymark22

    Let the games begin... Burris hasn't done anything wrong. Blago did his job as governor. Harry Reid is making fools of the Democratic party. So much for a "new start"... it's the same old thing from Harry Reid. Time to go, Harry...

    January 4, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  17. Meka

    Will someone please inform Reid, "Enough Drama"

    January 4, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  18. San Diego

    George W. Bush & his cabinet have a very long list of failures including: the collapsing economy & failures to regulate it as well as banks & corporations correctly and lavishly spend on pork barrel & earmarks, hurricane Katrina preparation & reaction failures, an unjust war in Iraq & a botched war in Afghanistan and its failures to capture or kill Bin Laden & other Al Qaeda leaders, failing to provide troops with adequate body armor & vehicle plating armor, betraying CIA agent Valerie Plame.

    More of his failures include the torture and executions of detainees in Guantanamo Bay & Abu Ghraib that only embolden & enlarge terrorist groups. One of their most famous failures was to ignore and dismiss intelligence prior to 9/11 about terrorist attacks. They preferred to cash in on the aftermath and justify their invasion of Afghanistan than to prevent the attack that caused more than 3,000 deaths.

    Bush & his cabinet sold out to oil, weapon, construction & health care corporations. A new failure they are working on is stripping people of their rights to sue corporations for malpractice. Another of their failures is the lack of inspection and renovation by the Republican government with the infrastructure of the country like in the bridge collapse in Minnesota, the breaking of water pipes in Maryland and the natural disaster of ashes washing up on a river in Tennessee.

    Time will NOT forgive or pardon Bush no matter what happens. Time never forgave Richard Nixon or Warren G. Harding which are two other awful & corrupt ex – Republican presidents.

    The WORST Presidents in US history are George W. Bush, Richard Nixon & Warren G. Harding...all Republicans of course!

    Congress has not had high approval ratings in the last 2 years because of Republicans & Democrats. BUT, Americans seem to like Democratic Senators because they almost elected 60 of them in the last election. Americans also seem to like Democratic House Representatives because they elected more than 250 of them in the last election.

    January 4, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  19. Justin from New Haven, CT

    Who really cares about Burris? Just vote him out once Obama's original term is done.

    January 4, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  20. Ann

    Mr. Reid and the Dem leadership are really bad. First they supported Mr.Obama, now they go against a constitutional right. Stupid, stupid, stupid...

    January 4, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  21. roddykitchens

    previous article by Sen.Reid comments filled. putting here.Sen.Reid accusing Pres Bush as being the worst ever pres!He is one to talk.Congress has a much worse rating than Pres Bush and Sen Reid is the head man there.G, figure.

    January 4, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  22. randy gluff

    I think Mr. Reids comments about President Bush are totally wrong and should be kept to himself!!!

    January 4, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  23. Crushur

    Reid is just looking for a reciept, after all, Burris was apparently the highest bidder.

    January 4, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  24. Democrats Supporting Burris

    The Illinoise Senate Nomination of Mr. Burris IS LEGAL AND SHOULD BE HONORED.

    Mr. Burris is an outstanding person and should not be trashed by the likes of Reid and his political manipulation team.

    Reid has already been caught on tape saying that he did not want ANY of the BLACK candidates as Senator.......NOW he is saying he doesn't want Mr.Burris either, so what does that tell us?

    Whites ONLY in the Senate this year?

    January 4, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  25. TexAnnie *-*-*-*-*

    Burris is crazy to pursue this with the cloud of corruption hanging over it. Then he & his buddies tried to place the race card with this comments about lynching. That's when he totally turned me off 100%. It bugs me that black leaders are rallying around him saying the Senate needs to seat him because he's black. Hello people!! We need to seat the BEST person– color should NOT be a consideration.

    He appears to be an egotistical opportunist. I think the Senate needs to refuse to seat him because of the corruption allegations surrounding the seat appointment.

    But we saw how tough Reid DIDN'T hang in there on Lieberman, so who knows what will happen.

    January 4, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
1 2 3 4