CHICAGO - President-elect Barack Obama called for Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich to resign on Wednesday, hours after the embattled governor reported for work amid charges he plotted to sell Obama's vacant Senate seat.
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 was arrested Tuesday, accused of scheming to enrich himself by selling Obama's open seat for cash or a lucrative job for himself. The governor has authority to appoint the replacement.
In response to questions from The Associated Press, Gibbs said Obama believes the Illinois General Assembly should consider how to fill the Senate seat and 'put in place a process to select a new senator that will have the trust and confidence of the people of Illinois.' Aides say Obama is refraining from stating what that solution should be.
Blagojevich is out on bond and has denied any wrongdoing.
One of his top aides, Deputy Gov. Bob Greenlee, resigned Wednesday, Blagojevich spokeswoman Kelley Quinn said. She didn't give a reason for Greenlee's resignation, and it wasn't immediately clear if Greenlee was one of the deputy governors named in the complaint against Blagojevich.
Two deputy governors are listed, one as a potential Senate candidate to replace Obama and another as a Blagojevich lieutenant who was deeply involved in an alleged scheme to shake down the Chicago Tribune.
Greenlee was promoted to the job in June. He had been a top administration aide previously.
After a lawyer for Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. said the congressman is the 'Senate Candidate 5' mentioned in the complaint, Jackson called a news conference in Washington to deny any wrongdoing.
The governor left his home on Chicago's North Side early Wednesday and waved to the media before quickly getting into a dark SUV without talking to reporters.
A short time later, Blagojevich's SUV arrived at his office.
'He is still the sitting governor of Illinois today, now, and that is not something we have any say in or control of,' U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald said in unveiling corruption charges on Tuesday against the 52-year-old governor.
The governor's attorney, Sheldon Sorosky, said Tuesday he didn't know of any immediate plans for the governor to resign. Blagojevich believes he didn't do anything wrong and asks Illinois residents to have faith in him, Sorosky said.
'I suppose we will have to go to trial,' he said.
Blagojevich could still appoint someone to fill Obama's seat despite the charges that he tried to barter it away for cash or a plum job in what Fitzgerald called 'a political corruption crime spree.'
But it would take a lot of nerve and Blagojevich would have to hurry because state lawmakers are racing to snatch away his power to appoint a new senator and put it in the hands of voters.