Calls Mount for Blagojevich to Resign

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WASHINGTON -- President-elect Barack Obama is the latest to call on the Illinois governer to step down.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich's arrest for allegedly trying to sell Obama's Senate seat has sparked a political fire storm not only in Illinois, but across the country.

Click play for more CBN News coverage, including an interview with Chicago Sun-Times reporter Lynn Sweet and Jay Stewart of the Better Government Association.

Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said the president-elect agrees with other prominent politicians in Illinois and elsewhere that "under the current circumstances, it is difficult for the governor to effectively do his job and serve the people of Illinois."

Blagojevich is now free on bail after being indicted on charges to sell President-Elect Barack Obama's U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder.

The alleged scheme has many wondering what's next in Illinois state politics.

Happy Birthday - You're Under Arrest

The Illinois governor turns 52-years-old Wednesday. But no matter how many candles are blown, there's no wishing away the federal corruption charges.

Blagojevich denies doing anything wrong, and according to his attorney, plans to go back to work.

According to the state constitution, Blagojevich can still fill the U.S. Senate seat at the center of the controversy despite his indictment.

The governor has faced allegations of misconduct and ethical violations almost since the day he was elected - ironically - on a promise to clean up the Illinois government.

And Monday night, the governor seemed to know that he was being watched for more problems.

"If anybody wants to tape my conversations, go ahead, feel free to do it," the governor said. "Ain't nothing but sunshine in my life."

Caught Red-handed

But Tuesday, the dark clouds rolled in - along with federal agents who arrested Blagojevich and his chief of staff for trying to put Obama's Senate seat up for sale.

Authorities say they have Blagojevich caught on tape, trying to put a price tag on the high-profile public office job.

While Blagojevich may fight to keep his job, many want him to step down. If he does not, Illinois lawmakers may try to remove him from office, but that could take months.

"I think the Illinois general assembly should assemble soon - calling for a special election filling the vacant seat of Obama," said Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin. "No appointment by this governor under these circumstances could produce a credible replacement."

Could Illinois Scandal Dog Obama?

For the new President-elect, the charges are an unwelcome distraction.

Some Washington Republicans say the charges "raise questions," but prosecutors aren't accusing Obama of any wrongdoing.

"I should make clear, the complaint makes no allegations about the President-elect whatsoever," U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgeral stated.

Obama has distanced himself from Blagojevich, saying he knew nothing about his alleged scheme.

"I had no contact with the Governor or his office… I was not aware of what was happening," Obama said.

Blagojevich faces a maximum 30 years in prison if he's found guilty.

If that happens, he would follow in the footsteps of his predecessor George Ryan, currently serving a prison sentence for corruption.

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CBN News
John Jessup

John Jessup

CBN News Washington Correspondent

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