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Our untrustworthy junior Senator

Tuesday, Feb 17, 2009

* Mark Brown’s essential thesis is spot on

I’ll leave it to the proper investigative bodies to decide whether Roland Burris committed perjury last month in testimony before the Illinois House impeachment committee. From a strict legal perspective, maybe he didn’t.

But I’ll tell you straight up, our new U.S. senator proved himself to be a lying little sneak. […]

The problem is that if he couldn’t tell the whole truth previously, why should anybody believe he’s telling the whole truth now? I don’t.

I’m not saying he did anything improper in pursuit of the appointment. I’m just saying there’s no reason at this point to accept his denials that he didn’t. Maybe we’re still not asking him the questions the right way to suit him.

* Brown’s column today goes beyond the House Republican claims that Burris evaded Rep. Jim Durkin’s questions at the House impeachment hearing to something I also pointed out to subscribers this morning. GOP Rep. Jil Tracy attempted to get Burris to talk about his other contacts later in the hearing and Burris was more than just a little evasive…

Tracy: “So you don’t recall that there was anybody else besides Lon Monk that you expressed an interest to at that point?”

Burris: “No, I can’t recall. Because people were coming to me saying, Roland, you should pursue that appointment, you’re qualified, and this was –”

Tracy: “Is there anybody that comes to mind in that light that you can –”

Surely, here was one last chance for Burris to clear the air and mention his contacts with Harris, Wyma or the governor’s brother. But who did he name?

Rich Barber, a friend of his from New Jersey.

Case closed.

I’m still not convinced that Burris legally perjured himself, but it’s obvious that Roland Burris has not been truthful with the state of Illinois. His first sworn affidavit was apparently a complete fabrication, his sworn testimony was filled with repeated acts of evasion, and therefore his recent sworn affidavit simply cannot be trusted.

* And check out how Burris informed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. Dick Durbin about his latest affidavit…

Burris, I’m told by several sources, strolled up to Durbin, the No. 2 Senate leader, and Reid on the Senate floor while they were in the midst of overseeing the vote on President Obama’s stimulus bill, one of the most important pieces of legislation in the history of this nation.

Burris vastly minimized the nature of the document he filed.

He cannot be trusted at all.

* We don’t even know when he was contacted by the G. From yesterday’s Sun-Times

After contact with federal agents, U.S. Sen. Roland Burris changed his sworn testimony to the Illinois House committee that moved to impeach Gov. Rod Blagojevich, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

Burris acknowledged Sunday that federal investigators have contacted his lawyers. But he denied that was the reason he sent the House panel new testimony Feb. 5 disclosing for the first time fundraising discussions with Blagojevich’s brother, Robert, who chaired the ex-governor’s campaign fund.

* From today’s Tribune

But Burris’ efforts to clear up the matter also created more confusion. Asked to clarify his recent acknowledgment that federal authorities want to talk to him about the appointment, he said they may have contacted him even before he testified Jan. 8 to the House panel that recommended impeaching Blagojevich.

* But this is what he and his lawyer said during Sunday’s press conference…

Asked at one point whether federal investigators had talked to him or his aides about the Senate appointment, Burris said he had not been questioned.

“What I understand is some of the agents have reached out to my lawyers,” Burris said, adding, “They want to meet with me.”

Later, Burris attorney Timothy Wright said, “The FBI has not come to us and they’re not asking us for anything.”

* And now the attorney general has joined the call for a criminal investigation

“This is a particularly frustrating revelation,” [Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan] said of Burris’ recent disclosure that he had contact with five Blagojevich insiders. “I encourage the Sangamon County state’s attorney to take a closer look at this in the interest of truth, integrity and transparency.”


* Related…

* Top Republicans Claim Dems tried to ‘Bury’ Affidavit

* Why was affidavit undisclosed for 9 days?

* Burris unscripted: More details about Blagojevich contacts

* ISU President to meet with Senator Burris

* More to the story

* Burris controversy mounts

* Is it perjury or not?: Former Cook County prosecutor Irv Miller said he wouldn’t approve perjury charges if the case were brought to him. There may be inconsistencies in Burris’ statements, but key questions put to Burris by a House impeachment panel were asked in meandering fashion, rather than the specific, “Isn’t-it-a-fact?” style of a prosecutor, he said.

* Silence is Golden? Burris Testimony May Not be Perjury, But Whole Truth Wasn’t Offered

* What qualifies as ‘perjury?’: Faulty memories don’t constitute perjury. Deliberately lying under oath does. Not telling all you know? Well, that’s a bit trickier.

* Burris Stays on Defensive

* Burris says he won’t resign

* Burris says he has ‘nothing to hide’

* Roland Burris Speaks About Calls To Resign

* Burris to tour parts of Illinois

* Burris gets earful on ‘listening tour’

* Burris continues state tour amid fresh firestorm

* Blagojevich ties haunt Burris on tour of Ill.

* Burris defends himself as key Democrat calls for him to ‘come clean’

* Lawmakers skeptical on Burris’ story

* Lawmakers: Burris should have come clean early

* Ill. lawmaker urges cautious inquiry of Burris

* Ill. Atty. Gen. Wants Deeper Burris Investigation

* Burris inquiries urged

* Growing Chorus Seeks Probe Into Burris’ Affairs

* Republicans Pursuing Criminal Charges against Burris

* Locals weigh in on what to do with Burris

* Radogno: Put Burris’ seat on April 7 ballot

* Burris ‘mortally wounded’ by keeping quiet

* Dems worry about Burris in 2010

* Dems hold breath on Burris

* Step aside, senator

* Step down, Burris

* Arena: What to do about Burris?

* Burris lied, and liars get fired

* Will Sen. Burris make it past 2-month mark?

* Burris legacy is tarnished

* Burris backers not ready for real change

* Just when Illinois was ready move on

* Watchdogs Frustrated with Latest Political Controversy

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Vote Quimby! - Tuesday, Feb 17, 09 @ 9:30 am:

    Just when you think it can’t get any worse (or better, for CapFax)…

  2. - Deep South - Tuesday, Feb 17, 09 @ 9:32 am:

    Oy is right!!!!

  3. - Cynic - Tuesday, Feb 17, 09 @ 9:33 am:

    So let me get this straight…Roland says he never had contact with G-Rod or his boys and then the feds come a knockin’. Presumably his attorneys (goofy as they are) tell Roland that he simply can’t lie or it’s obstruction of justice plus, the feds have him on tape. Accordingly he “amends” his affidavit now that his memory has been refreshed.

    Politics as usual.

    I’m nominally a Dem, but I think the party needs to put politics aside and support a full and complete investigation of Roland’s conduct.

    I’d like to see one addition to the Taj Roland — First African-American Senator in the United States to be convicted of perjury and removed from office.

    Trailblazer indeed.

  4. - Pot calling kettle - Tuesday, Feb 17, 09 @ 9:35 am:

    When you will do ANYTHING to get into the Senate, you will end up losing all you were trying to gain and more.

    Rod looked around to find someone so desperate to get into the Senate that he would accept the appointment when no one else would. Burris has since shown us how desperate he truly was. I don’t think anything would surprise me now.

  5. - Concerned Observer - Tuesday, Feb 17, 09 @ 9:37 am:

    I just find this incredibly, incredibly disappointing. I know that’s not a constructive comment, but it’s how I’ve felt all weekend when I’ve thought about this. Disappointed.

  6. - Chicago Cynic - Tuesday, Feb 17, 09 @ 9:42 am:

    How completely unsurprising. When Roland was first appointed, he kept saying (and Monique Davis said last night on Chicago Tonight again) that there has never been any question about his ethics or a blemish on his reputation. Those of us who know better have been frustrated at this farce of Roland as “honorable” guy. It’s always been a sham.

    That man knows only one truth - what’s in it for Roland (always spoken in the third person of course).

  7. - Pot calling kettle - Tuesday, Feb 17, 09 @ 9:49 am:

    Is there a place where the entire transcript of Burris’ testimony to the House Committee is posted?

  8. - Chicago Cynic - Tuesday, Feb 17, 09 @ 9:49 am:

    Oh, and it amazes me that other than Susana Mendoza last night, nobody has really pointed out that he is under a higher obligation because he is a lawyer and the former highest law enforcement officer in the state.

    Once the arrest was made, he had an affirmative obligation to report the Rob Blagojevich contacts to the Feds as it was clearly relevant to their investigation. He didn’t.

    Everyone knew full well what the impeachment committee was after. As the former AG, he had an obligation to explain himself and his contacts fully. He didn’t.

    As an attorney and the former attorney general, he should know better. If he doesn’t, he’s not fit to hold the office.

  9. - Ready for Change - Tuesday, Feb 17, 09 @ 9:52 am:

    Why is no one talking about this:

    “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.”

    What is “trying to get continued business”?

  10. - Justice - Tuesday, Feb 17, 09 @ 9:52 am:

    A fellow once said: “I’m not calling you liar, liar, but your story smacks of untruths.” It is just a matter of time before we will know exactly what was said and by whom. Roland is having trouble spending time with the press when just a few short weeks ago he couldn’t get enough. My oh my how times and circumstance change.

  11. - Chicago Cynic - Tuesday, Feb 17, 09 @ 9:52 am:

    Pot, the transcript doesn’t do it justice. You need to watch it on YouTube. Here is the relevant section. Note that at about 4 minutes in, he’s asked, “would you have gone to Federal Authorities if you were aware of a quid pro quo? Burris: I have no response to that.”

  12. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Feb 17, 09 @ 9:52 am:

    I can’t add much to “lying little sneak.”

    What wouldn’t the guy do for high office? He was willing to ignore his duty as AG and let a man be executed for a crime he didn’t commit in order to preserve his “electability.”

    But while we’re on a truth kick, we’re all clear that no GOP officeholders really want Burris to resign, right? He’s not a gift; he’s a goldmine that will provide more and more treasure as long as he holds office.

    I just wonder why the GOP didn’t put Lisa Madigan on the spot and demand she investigate the matter? She’s more than willing to let the GOP state’s attorney handle it.

  13. - The 'Broken Heart' of Rogers Park - Tuesday, Feb 17, 09 @ 9:54 am:

    Seems the Tribune and Sun-times took no chances with this weasel. They’ve put up the word-by-word question and answer session from last night.

    The junior senator comes off looking worse every time he opens his mouth.

  14. - Dan S, a Voter and Cubs Fan - Tuesday, Feb 17, 09 @ 9:59 am:

    The Burris Senate appointment was tainted from the beginning and never should have happened. Everything Milorad ever touched just keeps explodeing like a mine field.

  15. - True Observer - Tuesday, Feb 17, 09 @ 10:03 am:

    Hey Roland, the Reverend said every dark cloud has a silver lining.

    He doesn’t know the half of it.

    What do you mean?

    They’re all licking their chops.

    Why are you smiling?

    The more the merrier.

    Oh, I get it.

  16. - Chicago Cynic - Tuesday, Feb 17, 09 @ 10:04 am:

    Trying to get business was for his lobbying firm. Nothing untoward about that, though it was bizarre that Roland couldn’t remember his own clients before the impeachment committee.

  17. - Amy - Tuesday, Feb 17, 09 @ 10:07 am:

    Keith O. on Countdown last night…”It may not be perjury, but it sure isn’t the truth.”

    announcer during the Michigan game on Sunday…”That pass went through more hands than a public works project in Chicago.”

    we are living in a state that evokes laughter. And Roland is our new leader of smug slickness. resign Roland.

  18. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Feb 17, 09 @ 10:07 am:

    @Ready for Change, I’m not sure who you mean by “nobody,” but Burris’ statements about Monk were covered pretty extensively during the impeachment hearings.

  19. - James the Intolerant - Tuesday, Feb 17, 09 @ 10:16 am:

    I think that the two Dems on the committee who look the worst are Currie and Fritchey. Currie because she sat on the “new and improved” affidavit and Fritchey because, whether he was or wasn’t, he looks like he’s providing cover to Burris.
    REP. FRITCHEY: Madam Chairman, if I may, Mr. Burris had already stated that he was not aware of any quid pro quo, which answers that question and puts it to rest.” On Fox 32 this morning Fritchey stated some nonsense that he was only trying to give Mr. Burris the same rights someone would receive in court, but everyone stated all along that the impeachment was not the same as a court case. I think Fritchey is a sham.

  20. - You Go Boy - Tuesday, Feb 17, 09 @ 10:19 am:

    I’m getting “sleazeball fatigue”. These politicians just wear you down. The Trillion $ “Stiumulus”, which may or may not work, or could kill us, apparently has the majority of the stimulus well into next year, coincident with guess what? Elections! Country first, my ass.

  21. - Legaleagle - Tuesday, Feb 17, 09 @ 10:19 am:

    Burris could also face obstruction-of-justice charges by the USAtty - that is more likely than a state perjury prosecution. But I predict he will remain our wonderful Senator through 2010. Blago -the gift that just keeps on giving!!

  22. - R_K - Tuesday, Feb 17, 09 @ 10:23 am:

    Rich,  what is also important to note is that Roland Burris’ answer to Rep. Tracy’s question shows that Burris was also lying in his press conference on Sunday. Burris claimed in that press conference that when he answered “I talked to some friends about my desire to be appointed, yes.” to Rep Durkin’s question he was in fact admitting that he has spoken to the people Durkin asked about (Rob Blagojevich, Wyma, etc…).  But, when Jill Tracy asked him later in his testimony who else he had spoken to, he claimed he did not recall.  Did Burris remember speaking to Rob Blagojevich and others when Durkin asked him, but managed to forget about it when Rep Tracy asked him less than an hour later?I lay all this out in a video I posted yesterday (here it is:  The bottom line is, Roland Burris is a lying little sneak

  23. - Chicago Cynic - Tuesday, Feb 17, 09 @ 10:24 am:

    I like John and have contributed to him because of his reform work in the House. But his performance during the Burris portion of the hearing was profoundly disappointing and I won’t be voting for him in the 5th because of it.

  24. - Chicago Cynic - Tuesday, Feb 17, 09 @ 10:26 am:

    Clearly he was lying though his teeth in his press conference, but that wasn’t under oath so it doesn’t really matter except to we voters.

  25. - Plutocrat03 - Tuesday, Feb 17, 09 @ 10:28 am:

    And the role for the state most determined to be sleazy goes to…..Illinois.

    I did not say the Democratic party in Illinois because the Republicans are as guilty.

  26. - Nearly Normal - Tuesday, Feb 17, 09 @ 10:31 am:

    Burris needs to resign but he won’t. This is so pathetic. I think there is even more to the story but will we ever get to the truth.

  27. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Tuesday, Feb 17, 09 @ 10:52 am:

    Not only did Burris lie to the impeachment committee but I bet he will be a witness for the procescution to testify that Blago’s brother tried to sell it to him. Just a small oversight.

  28. - BigDog - Tuesday, Feb 17, 09 @ 10:53 am:

    Roland Burris, as our US Senator, has been good for one thing for me personally. He has given me a good real life example to point at and explain to my children how lying to get something that you desperately want may initially help you achieve your goal, but in the long run you have to live with that decision on your conscience, and if you are eventually caught in your lie, you face the consequence of eroded trust in you by anyone that you deal with in the future. This has been even better than having them watch one of the old after school specials!

  29. - Say WHAT? - Tuesday, Feb 17, 09 @ 10:57 am:

    I had been wondering when the other shoe would drop, and what it would be. WHAM!

  30. - 312 - Tuesday, Feb 17, 09 @ 11:10 am:

    What’s really frustrating with all of this is that if Senator Burris would have come out with this up front, it would have been fine. WHEN WILL POLITICIANS EVER LEARN??? It’s not the “crime” itself, it’s the COVERUP that gets you in trouble!

    Time & Time Again… Jack Ryan (sex clubs w/starlet wife), Bill Clinton (sex in the Oval Office), Richard Nixon (break-in).

    “Yes, I had contacts with them. They even asked me THREE TIMES to raise money for the (ex-)Governor and I turned them down each & every time. Even if it wasn’t quid pro quo, raising $$ for GRod at this time, in my position, would have made it appear that way.”

    Would have made Senator Burris look like a stand-up guy. Now it’s making Illinois politics look even sleazier, he looks like a liar and having to run from reporters.

  31. - Scooby - Tuesday, Feb 17, 09 @ 11:18 am:

    Lisa Madigan is smart for calling on the Sangamon County State’s Attorney to investigate. If her office had to investigate it would be the worst case scenario for her.

  32. - Irish - Tuesday, Feb 17, 09 @ 11:19 am:

    The real point to be made here is that Burris, Currie, Fritchey, and all the rest of the GA that would make this a political deal STILL DON”T GET IT. One would think that after all that we have been through with Blago and the whole circus that has been our GA this last six years; and the public reaction to that, these folks would automatically set the bar higher for themselves. The thoughts should not have been, is this legal, am I meeting the minimum standards for disclosure? It should have been, I need to make sure this is over the top ethically and as transparent as possible so there can be no mistake that I did everything right. These fools do not get it that the games are over. Start doing your job for your employers, the taxpayers, and get this State moving again. We do not care what party or affiliations you come from. It is now time to separate the true statesmen from the ego manical politicians.

  33. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Feb 17, 09 @ 11:24 am:

    Once again, we are seeing that while normal people are guided by a moral compass, politicians have an additional compass - a legal one. It allows them to be dishonest and mislead people because technically they can claim that they didn’t legally mislead and aren’t definitionally dishonest.

    How much longer can we expect citizens to support a government with this kind of corrupted mentality? While these corrupted politicians demand that we let them close loopholes preventing each of us from paying more in taxes, they demand that we allow them to use legal loopholes preventing each of us from hearing the truth! This has to end!

    I don’t care if this is legally considered perjury! Roland Burris lied because he didn’t tell us the truth about the conversations he had with Blagojevich’s inner circle regarding pay-to-play dishonesty. Everyone knew why Roland Burris was before the Impeachment Committee. Mr. Burris decided to tell us enough to get his coveted senate seat, not to restore public confidence in the Office he sought.

    Drag him before the Court. Press charges. Talk about his dishonesty. Expose him for the fraud he is. Mr. Burris wanted another notch on his Taj Rolando edifice in Oak Wood Cemetary and it might as well read:

    “Liar - (but not technically)”

  34. - sal-says - Tuesday, Feb 17, 09 @ 11:26 am:

    As my wife says: “Politics Illinois - The Gift That Keeps On Giving”.

  35. - Carl Nyberg - Tuesday, Feb 17, 09 @ 12:07 pm:

    Is there a petition calling for Burris to resign?

  36. - Amy - Tuesday, Feb 17, 09 @ 12:10 pm:

    seriously, he doesn’t resign after revealing that he sought to raise money for Blago while soliciting the senate position? he keeps changing his story and it keeps getting worse. he is a liar and a blowhard.

  37. - Cogito - Tuesday, Feb 17, 09 @ 12:14 pm:

    Isn’t the line, “Do you swear to tell the truth, the WHOLE truth, and nothing but the truth?” We are missing a big hunk of truth here.

  38. - Pot calling kettle - Tuesday, Feb 17, 09 @ 12:29 pm:

    The impeachment hearings on YouTube are marked private! Is there a way for me to watch or are there transcripts posted somewhere?

    The media outlets carefully edit to make there point, I would still like to be able to view or read the whole thing.

    It would be nice to compare the testimony with the two affidavits. (As well as the next affidavit where he admits to raising money for Rod or promising him a back rub or whatever.)

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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