Ted Barrett and Deirdre Walsh
CNN Capitol Hill producers
A late meeting on Capitol Hill of congressional Democratic staff and staff from the White House on the auto loans broke up a few minutes ago with two senior Senate Democratic aides involved in the talks reporting progress on several key issues but not a done deal yet.
The two key remaining issues to be resolved involve whether to block the auto companies from suing states over their greenhouse gas emission standards and how the bill can ensure taxpayers can get repaid for loans to Chrysler, a privately held company, in the event the company goes bankrupt. Congressional Democrats want to add language they can reach up to the holding company, Cerberus Capital Management, if that happens, but the White House is “pushing back” according to one Democratic aide.
The talks did resolve two sticking points. One dealt with a provision that any expenditure by the three companies over $25 million would have to have to get prior government approval. To satisfy some Republicans who considered the requirement too cumbersome, the dollar amount was raised to $100 million.
The other change involved language to ensure the government would revoke the loans if the companies weren’t restructuring in a way the government found satisfactory. The legislative text was changed to say in the event that happens the government “shall” revoke the loans from “could” revoke them.
“The hammer is the loans get called,” said one of the aides.
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Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich got a call this morning he'll likely never forget. Robert Grant, the head of the FBI's Chicago office, was on the line. He told Blagojevich there was a warrant for his arrest.
"Is this a joke," the governor replied, according to Grant.
It wasn't a joke.
FBI agents arrested Blagojevich and his Chief of Staff, John Harris on federal corruption charges.
Here's what has America talking: The governor is accused of trying to sell President-elect Barack Obama's now-vacant Senate seat to the highest bidder.
There's also the accusation he was trying to pull back $8 million dollars in state funds for a children's hospital because he never got a $50,000 campaign contribution from the CEO of the hospital.
And, investigators say Blagojevich tried to extort the owners of the Tribune company, which owns The Chicago Tribune, into firing certain editors.
U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald laid out the government's case at today's news conference. He said investigators bugged the governor's campaign office and placed a tap on his home phone.
Tonight on AC360°, we'll share some of the shocking comments investigators say they caught on tape.
At the microphone today, Fitzgerald wasn't shy about sharing his feelings about the governor.
"Governor Blagojevich has taken us to a truly new low," said Fitzgerald.
"The conduct would have made Lincoln roll over in his grave," he added later.
There's one more thing. Blagojevich retains the right to name Obama's successor to the Senate even under indictment.
The only way the decision can be pulled from him is if he quits or is removed from office by impeachment.
Do you think Gov. Blagojevich should still get to name Obama's successor in the Senate?
We'd love to hear your thoughts.
Join us for more on this breaking story and tonight's other headlines starting at 10pm ET.
CNN Congressional Correspondent
As negotiators move closer Tuesday evening to a compromise bill to bailout Detroit (see note from Ted and Deirdre) a small group of Senate Republicans are signaling they will try to slow its passage.
GOP Senator John Ensign said Tuesday he will filibuster the auto bailout unless there are major changes in the compromise that Democrats and the White House are close to forging.
An Ensign aide tells CNN that he will hold a press conference at noon Wednesday with about half a dozen GOP senators who intend to support his move.
It is important to note that even GOP opponents concede that the auto bailout may likely have the 60 votes to pass, but these GOP senators are trying to “slow the trains down to make a point,” according to the Ensign aide.
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President-elect Barack Obama sits with former Vice President Al Gore after a private meeting at Obama's transition office on December 9, 2008 in Chicago, Illinois.
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By Eliott C. McLaughlin
The rapper Common wants to take hip-hop in a new direction, he says, and he has an unsuspecting ally - President-elect Barack Obama.
Obama "is going to change hip-hop for the better," predicted the rapper, whose eighth album, "Universal Mind Control" (G.O.O.D. Music/Geffen), hits shelves Tuesday.
"I really do believe we as hip-hop artists pick up what's going on in the world and try to reflect that," he told CNN, outlining his belief that mainstream as well as so-called "conscious" rappers - the more socially aware - will pick up on what he sees as the more optimistic prospects of an Obama presidency.
"I think hip-hop artists will have no choice but to talk about different things and more positive things, and try to bring a brighter side to that because, even before Barack, I think people had been tired of hearing the same thing," he said.
Likewise, "Universal Mind Control," with its hook-heavy, synthed-out tracks, represents a "broadening" of hip-hop's audience - one that demands evolution rather than hackneyed revamps of old beats, rhythms and rhymes, Common said.
The most famous inmate in Nevada’s penal system has a new number. And guess what? It’s listed. 1027820 is Orenthal Simpson’s ID. It’s a worthy bookend to his booking denominator, 121264.
Thanks to the state’s Offender Tracking Information System, we’re getting the latest prison-charted vitals on Simpson.
Under the Identification and Demographics banner, Offender #1027820 is 61 years old, he has brown eyes, weighs 235 pounds, and is described as having a “stocky” build. Corrections officials haven’t yet designated where he will stay inside the High Desert State Medium-Security Penitentiary and have labeled his custody level as “unassigned.”
Although commonly referred to as the Juice, the report lists no known aliases for Simpson. It does, however, offer a litany of his convictions. And let’s say the rap sheet is long. There are 13 offenses posted on the booking information chart. They include the minimum and maximum sentences and when they go into effect.
Want to see the Simpson report for yourself? Just click on this link.
CNN Financial News Producer
The proposed plan to rescue Detroit’s Big Three is now in President Bush’s court. Negotiators are said to be close to an agreement on a plan that would provide the automakers with a total of $15 billion in federal loans as soon as next Monday. And a so-called "car czar" would be appointed to oversee the restructuring of the auto industry.
This is by no means a done deal, and it raises all sort of questions: What happens to employee retirement plans if the automakers fail? Why do any of the CEOs still have a job? And my personal favorite… Why doesn't the government just give us all a large amount of money so we can go buy their cars? Check out CNNMoney.com's story answering CNN viewer questions about the proposed auto rescue.
And now that President-elect Obama has suggested that General Motors and the rest of the Detroit Three may need to install new management as a condition of a bailout, the question is: Who might become GM's next CEO?
Another day, another brutal round of job cuts… Three major companies - Sony, Danaher and Wyndham Worldwide - have announced cuts totaling nearly 14,000 jobs this morning. Tokyo-based Sony announced the most sweeping cuts of the three, saying it planned to reduce headcount in its electronics business by 8,000. Wyndham – which operates hotels including the Ramada, Days Inn and Super 8 chains – is cutting 4,000 jobs; manufacturer Danaher will lay off 1,700.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Here are some Illinois officials who ran afoul of the law:
Orville Hodge, state auditor, 1953-1956. In 1956, Hodge was convicted of confidence games, embezzlement and forgery involving more than $2 million in state money. He financed a lifestyle that included homes in Florida and Illinois and two airplanes. Hodge was sentenced to concurrent sentences of 12-15 years.
Otto Kerner, governor, 1961-1968. After he left office and became a federal judge, Kerner was convicted on counts of bribery, conspiracy, perjury and related charges. When he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, Kerner was released early from prison. He died in 1976.
Paul Powell, secretary of state, 1965-1970. Investigated in 1966 but cleared of corruption charges, Powell died in a hotel room with more than $800,000 in cash stashed in shoe boxes.
William J. Scott, attorney general, 1969-1980. Convicted in 1980 of income tax evasion, Scott served seven months of a 366-day sentence.
William Stratton, governor, 1953-1961. Indicted on charges of violating income tax laws. The charges concerned the abuse and spending of campaign fund contributions. Stratton was acquitted in 1965.
Dan Walker, governor, 1973-1977. Convicted in 1987, Walker served 17 months for obtaining illegal loans used to finance a chain of quick oil change franchises for personal gain. The loans also funded the operation of an 80-foot yacht, the Governor's Lady. Walker was head of the thrift that provided the loans.
George Ryan, governor 1993-2003: Convicted of political corruption in 2006 for using his office as governor and earlier as secretary of state to enrich himself and his friends at taxpayer expense. He is currently serving a 6 1/2 year sentence.