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Sen. Roland Burris in hot water: GOP demands resignation, perjury probe; Update: Burris blames questioner for not asking him about Rob Blago; Reporters laugh at Burris

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By Michelle Malkin  •  February 15, 2009 04:20 PM

Scroll for updates…4:30pm Eastern Burris scheduled to address press…5:00pm Eastern press conference is a disaster for Burris…press laughs at Burris for his dubious rationalization for omitting Rob Blago contact…

Welcome to “As the Worm Turns.” In the wake of news this weekend of possible perjury by Blago crony Sen. Roland Burris, the Illinois GOP is demanding an investigation — and now, resignation:

An Illinois Republican leader says the state’s freshman U.S. senator should resign over contradictory statements regarding Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s impeachment.

State Rep. Jim Durkin told reporters Sunday that Democrat Roland Burris should resign over an affidavit contradicting statements he made earlier to a House committee.

Durkin also wants Burris investigated for possible perjury.

Gov. Pat Quinn also says Burris owes a full explanation. Burris plans a news conference later Sunday.

An affidavit released Saturday indicates Blagojevich’s brother asked Burris to host a fundraiser for the governor before Burris was appointed to the vacancy left by Barack Obama. That reflects a major omission from January testimony.

Race card-waving in 3, 2, 1…

***

4:29pm Eastern. Burris will be holding a press conference shortly to explain his amnesia.

4:38pm Eastern. Burris says he has made “no inconsistent statements.”

He says he had contact with 6 individuals about the seat, including Robert Blagojevich (Rod’s bro). Says he made clear he was not interested in donating money or doing favors for governor.

“Anyone who would suggest others…is simply playing at partisan politics.”

“Rob called me in October and as we said in the affidavit, that we advised him we would could not raise any money for him because we were raising money for other candidates…I couldn’t raise any money.”

Reporter asks why Rob Blago was not mentioned in first affidavit, but Lon Monk was. Lawyer says supplemental affidavit followed up and mentions that “he talked to friends” and that it was his intention to mention Rob Blago later.

Uh-huh.

Burris blames questioner for not asking specifically whether he spoke to Rob Blago.

***

Time asks: Liar or fool? You decide:

Burris gets appointed to the Senate by Rod Blagojevich, a self-made cartoon of political ineptness and alleged corruption. The U.S. Senate won’t seat Burris until he testifies under oath that he is unblemished by the Blagojevich stain. Burris does this–under oath–knowing that any disclosure of contacts with the Blagojovich camp could jeopardize the Senate acceptance of his nomination. He submits a sworn affidavit saying “there was not any contact between myself or any of my representatives with Governor Blagojevich or any of his representatives” about the Senate seat before he was offered the job. A few days later, he testifies under oath that he did, after all, talk about the job previously with “some friends about his desire to be appointed.” He is asked specifically about conversations with Blagojevich aides and associates Doug Scofield, Bob Greenleaf, Lon Monk, John Wyma and John Harris. He says he spoke with Lon Monk, a state lobbyist with ties to Blagojevich. Based on this information, he is accepted into the U.S. Senate.

Last Friday, the Burris story changes again–big time. (To see the new affidavit, click here.) His new story, includes these salient details: As far back as June, at a fundraiser Burris attended for Blagojevich, Burris told two of the governor’s aides, Wyma and Scofield, that he was “interested” in the Senate job. He also talked to Blagojevich’s brother about the post, not once but three times in October and November, and Burris, as part of the same conversations, discussed raising money for Blagojevich with the brother. (Burris claims he declined, saying it would look bad.) In October he called Blagojevich’s chief of staff, John Harris, in an attempt to get his own nephew a state job, and then asked about the Senate appointment. He also called Ed Smith, a “friend and supporter” of Blagojevich’s, to ask if he had a chance of getting the Senate job.

Burris, still under oath in a sworn affidavit, now says that he did not bring these facts up during the January testimony because he was “asked another question,” and did not have a chance to more fully explain himself. At best, this makes Burris a political fool, because he knowingly allowed his new Senate colleagues to be played for fools by denying them all the information they sought. Uncovering these facts, after all, was the entire purpose of his testimony, and he knew that. Did he think he could get by without bringing them up? Did he not feel the responsibility to clear the air, if not at the hearing, then immediately following the hearing? Did he think no one would notice, or that the information would not eventually come out?

Full transcript of original testimony here.

***

5:00pm Eastern update. The press just laughed at Burris for trying to defend his incomplete answer in his original affidavit.

REPRESENTATIVE DURKIN: Did you talk to any members of the Governor’s staff or anyone closely related to the Governor, including family members or any lobbyists connected with him, including let me throw out some names, John Harris, Rob Blagojevich, Doug Scofield, Bob Greenleaf, Lon Monk, John Wyma, did you talk to anybody who was associated with the Governor about your desire to seek the appointment prior to the Governor’s arrest?

MR. WRIGHT: Give us a moment.

MR. BURRIS: I talked to some friends about my desire to be appointed, yes.

REPRESENTATIVE DURKIN: I guess the point is I was trying to ask, did you speak to anybody who was
on the Governor’s staff prior to the Governor’s arrest or anybody, any of those individuals or anybody who is closely related to the Governor?

MR. BURRIS: I recall having a meeting with Lon Monk about my partner and I trying to get continued business, and I did bring it up, it must have been in September or maybe it was in July of ’08 that, you know, you’re close to the Governor, let him know that I am certainly interested in the seat.

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