Will the Gov. of Illinois resign?

December 10, 2008 1:01:14 PM PST
It's not easy to comprehend the behavior of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. He knew he was the target of a federal fraud investigation, had to know there may have been bugs in his office and wiretaps on his phones, and yet he still talked openly - if we're to believe the transcripts of the tapes - about taking bribes in exchange for appointing someone to fill Barack Obama's Senate seat. Sheesh.

The disturbing transcripts released yesterday have today morphed into an intriguing and a potentially politically damaging drama of who knew what and who said it.

No one besides Blagojevich has been charged yet -- but the names of the previously unidentified people labeled in the federal complaint only as "Senate Candidate Number" one, or two, or whatever, have now been leaked. The most prominent is Cong. Jesse Jackson, Jr., who sources say is Candidate Number 5.

If it's true, then Blagojevich is quoted in the complaint as saying this candidate's emissaries could come up with $1 million in exchange for his appointment to the Senate seat. (CLICK HERE for more)

If it's true, then why hasn't that person or that person's emissaries been charged? Are they cooperating with federal prosecutors? Are they getting a pass? What's going on? We don't know. Yet.

Jackson's lawyered-up, and late this afternoon the lawyer said he assumes that "Senate Candidate Number 5" is Jackson, that he never authorized anyone to make any deal with Blagojevich, and that he isn't a target of an investigation.

And what damage is there to Barack Obama? The U.S. Attorney in Chicago went out of his way yesterday to say that Obama was not implicated or involved. And in fact Blagojevich is quoted as blasting Obama -- sometimes with nasty swear words -- for not offering him anything but appreciation for any appointments.

Obama yesterday, after meeting with former Vice President Al Gore, said something to the effect that "we" haven't been in contact with the Governor, then stopped himself and changed the pronoun to "I."

Then Obama senior advisor David Axelrod said he had misspoken when he told a Chicago TV reporter last month that Obama had talked to the Governor about possible Senate seat replacements.

It's not pretty.

There are increasing calls, including from Obama, for Blagojevich to resign.

We'll have the latest on the scandal, tonight at 11.

We'll also have new information about the latest round of budget cuts called for by Mayor Bloomberg - 7% on top of the cuts he's already asked for. It's hard to imagine that the cuts will stop there. (CLICK HERE for more)

The economic news certainly isn't getting better. The retail data company known as ShopperTrak reports that foot traffic at the nation's big retail chains was down nearly 17% during November. It figures to be a slow holiday season.

And yet we're about to throw what could be good money after what is likely bad. The nearly $15 billion auto industry bailout plan is close to being done, and yet just about no one says the car companies won't be back in March, asking for more money.

These auto giants had a bad business plan for years; their problems won't be turned around in three months, or with $15 billion of our money.

One more item about the car bailout: Included in the plan is a pay raise for federal judges; a $5,000 a year jump to a salary of $174,000.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Sade Baderinwa (in for Liz Cho) and me, tonight at 11.