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January 7th, 2009
04:14 PM ET

Blagojevich calls Dems’ bluff

Program note: Tune in to 360° tonight for more on the drama surrounding Blagojevich’s Senate appointment.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/12/31/senate.appointment/art.gov2.gi.jpg caption="Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Roland Burris"]
Dana Bash
CNN Sr. Congressional Correspondent

WASHINGTON (CNN) Senate Democrats have no choice but to change their tone because Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich “called our bluff” in appointing someone over their objections, a senior Democratic congressional source conceded Wednesday.

“We tried to send a political signal to Blagojevich that we would not seat someone he appointed. He called our bluff, in a reckless way,” said the Democratic source.

A second senior Democratic source said it had clearly become a “heightened situation” that needed to be dealt with and that Burris’ face to face meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Majority Whip Dick Durbin really helped to establish a “person to person dialogue.”

A third senior Democratic source simply demurred that Democrats changed their tone after they “looked more into the situation.”

It is also noteworthy that Reid and Durbin went out of their way, unsolicited, to note this matter was not about race, noting that Burris himself had told them that

In terms of what to expect from this point, Democratic sources say the process they laid out today could take a month – including waiting for the Illinois Supreme Court to rule on the Burris request that it order Illinois Secretary of State Jessie White to sign Burris’s certificate of appointment, then getting Jesse White’s actual signature and then sending the matter to the Senate Rules Committee. The sources said it is entirely possible that before that is done, Blagojevich may no longer be in office, depending on what happens in the Illinois legislature impeachment proceedings, and that an acting governor might then be able to make an appointment. But one source said part of the problem Democrats are having is that the timing on both fronts is really unclear.

If the Illinois Supreme Court forces Jesse White to sign the appointment certificate, Democratic sources say the matter will be immediately taken up by the rules by the Senate Committee so it could look at the same questions as those before the Illinois impeachment proceedings:– whether anything untoward went on with the Burris appointment.

Democrats say they would hold a full Senate vote for basically the same reason.


Filed under: Dana Bash • Raw Politics • Rod Blagojevich • Roland Burris
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. PA

    Well don't be too quick to throw boulders at the Dems. Things might not be what they seem according to the latest report BUT that too may prove to be not exactly as it seems! One minute at a time.

    January 7, 2009 at 9:55 pm |
  2. Joe Harrison

    The whole Blagojevich, Burris thing is such a joke. It shows how stupid politics truly is in this country. Nothing matters but the "Party". How embarressing!!

    January 7, 2009 at 9:03 pm |
  3. jim Fallbrook CA

    It is about time the democrats finally decided to seat Burris. He was legally appointed by Gov Blagojevich. He is still the governor of Illinois. I believe he will be acquitted of any charges brought against him. If they want to get rid of Blagojevich, they should wait until his term expires. Blagojevich would either have to leave being voted out of office by Illinois voters or term limits. It will save the state of Illinois a lot of money!!!

    January 7, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  4. Joy in Seattle

    I find all of this politicking very disgusting. The Senate is just trying to throw their weight around and exert their power. Our country is faced with a whole lot of problems and they are worried about sending a message to a man under investigation at the expense of the IL citizenship. If Blagojevich is proven to have acted illegally or unethically, he will be removed and pay the price. This drama is unnecessary.

    Burris seems like a good choice. Just seat the man!

    January 7, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  5. Jason

    I was always under the impression the government worked for the people. If I was caught in my job with wrong doing, I would probably be fired on the spot. Why are government officals different? No wonder this country is in such turmoil..legal crooks!!! After all the officals write the laws.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:42 pm |
  6. Avery Garmire

    Turns out that the allegations are largely fabricated. What a surprise...and the press usually does such a good job...Thanks for the otherwise honest reporting...CNN is the Best!!! Thanks for keeping democracy in good hands.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  7. Cindy

    I loved it that Blagojevich called the dems bluff and appointed Burris to the senate, basically giving them the finger as he did it! They shouldn't have all came out and condemned him because you know with a man like that and his ego that he would retaliate...and he did!

    Now the dems have to deal with the after math of another mess. My guess is that they'll make a back room deal and seat Burris just to get this out of the news and out of the way..

    Cindy...Ga.

    January 7, 2009 at 4:20 pm |