DURBIN: It's a question about the process. This governor, Rod Blagojevich, has taken the appointment of a Senate vacancy to a level no one even imagined. I mean, to think, in these words out of his own mouth, from the wiretaps, verified, to think that he believed this was some sort of an auction process, that he could find some political advantage, even some resources and money coming his way if he picked the right person, has really raised a lot of questions with (inaudible)...
STEPHANOPOULOS: But Senator, there's no evidence -- there's no evidence that the appointment of Burris himself was corrupt, and Blagojevich is the governor right now, so isn't this a legal appointment?
DURBIN: It is -- I have to look at it in this fashion. The governor of Illinois has the state constitutional authority to fill the vacancy. The Senate of the United States has the U.S. constitutional responsibility to decide if Mr. Burris was chosen in a proper manner, and that is what we're going to do.
Senator Reid has said from the beginning, and I agree with him, we have to look at this carefully, because Rod Blagojevich has brought questions -- raised questions by his conduct as to how this process unfolded. Not reflecting personally on Roland Burris, but to make sure that in the end, the person representing the state of Illinois, serving with me in the United States Senate, was brought to that position properly.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Back in 1996, Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana was elected under contested circumstances. There was an investigation of the election, but she was seated provisionally by the Republican leader of Congress at that time. Will the Democrats seat Mr. Burris provisionally, as this investigation goes forward?
DURBIN: I don't believe that is the intention. And there's a real difference between what happened with Senator Landrieu. In her case, it was a matter of counting the votes. And that has traditionally been the reason for any election contests and recounts, as we have in Minnesota.
In Illinois, sadly, because of the allegations against Governor Blagojevich, there's a question of corruption, as to whether or not something was done which was entirely improper. Not a question of counting the votes. So I think that's the distinction, and why we're looking at this differently. There is no precedent. Nothing like this has occurred, at least in modern memory, in the U.S. Senate.
STEPHANOPOULOS: There is also the question of race. Congressman Bobby Rush, an African-American congressman from Chicago, has compared the Senate blocking Mr. Burris to some of the most notorious segregationists of the 1950s. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BOBBY L. RUSH, D-ILL.: I'm talking about George Wallace, Bull Connors. And I'm sure that the U.S. Senate do not want to see themselves placed in the same position.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: On top of this, you have reports in the Chicago Sun-Times that your leader in the Senate, Harry Reid, advised Governor Blagojevich not to pick African-American members of Congress, like Jesse Jackson Jr., like Danny Davis. Are you concerned about a racial backlash here?