Blogging From PHOENIX — The day after Governor Rod Blagojevich appointed former Illinois attorney General Roland Burris to fill President-elect Barack Obama’s Senate seat, the United States attorney investigating Mr. Blagojevich on corruption charges requested a 90-day extension to bring an indictment against him.

At Tuesday’s press conference Gov. Blagojevich referred to Mr. Burris, as the “next United States senator from Illinois.” And Illinois democratic Representative Danny Davis also an African-American, claimed today he was offered the seat by the governor last Wednesday, But turned it down. “Given all the revelations and all the controversy, I would not be able to take it from the governor,” Mr. Davis, said in an interview. “I felt that if I was to take the appointment, I would spend so much of my time deflecting and defending the position that it would take away my real reason for being involved in politics and political life, to find solutions to problems.”
Gov. Blagojevich appointed Mr. Burris despite warnings from Senate leaders in Washington they would not seat any Blagojevich appointee and the Illinois secretary of state, stated publicly he will not certify any appointment the Governor makes. Opposition to the selection immediately injected race into the process, which some say may have been part of the governor’s calculation. The turmoil puts political leaders in Washington in the embarrassing position of having to choose between accepting an appointee of the disgraced governor or denying a respected black candidate a place in the United States Senate.

Representative Bobby L. Rush, Democrat of Illinois, pointed out at the news conference on Tuesday there were no blacks in the Senate, adding that he did not believe any senator “wants to go on record to deny one African-American from being seated in the U.S. Senate.” The 71-year-old Burris, who appeared beside Mr. Blagojevich at Tuesday’s conference and said he was “honored” to have been appointed, told interviewers he “is prepared to go to work tomorrow.”
The Democratic caucus in Washington, he said, “will have to face the issue” of seating him, indicating that he planned to show up in Washington for the start of the Congressional session on Jan. 6. “Why won’t they seat me?” said Mr. Burris, who is seen by many here as an elder statesman in Democratic politics. “I was legally and constitutionally appointed. Why won’t they seat me because the governor has legal problems? You know, that’s apples and oranges.” His staff, in e-mail messages, has already begun to refer to him as “the Senator.”

I must agree with non-partisan constitutional law experts who point out that while no one disputes the ability of the Senate to expel crooked members, Senate leaders have yet to cite any point of legal or constitutional authority that would allow them to prevent Senator designate Burris from taking his seat. Governor Blagojevich was arrested Dec. 9, and is accused of corruption that prosecutors say included efforts to get a high-paying job or cabinet post or money in exchange for Mr. Obama’s Senate seat. He also faces an impeachment inquiry in the Illinois house. The governor has denied any wrongdoing.

In a motion filed in federal court on Wednesday, the federal prosecutor in Chicago, Patrick J Fitzgerald asked for more time in presenting an indictment against Mr. Blagojevich because “multiple witnesses” have come forward in recent weeks and investigators have to review “thousands of intercepted phone calls.”Federal prosecutors normally have 30 days to file an indictment against a defendant.

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