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Afternoon Burris trainwreck updates *** UPDATED x1 ***

Friday, Feb 20, 2009 - Posted by Rich Miller

*** UPDATE *** Uh-oh

Three weeks ago I was temporarily detailed to serve as Chief of Staff to Senator Roland W. Burris. Though my tenure was relatively brief, I enjoyed and valued my time with Senator Burris, his entire staff and his other advisors.

As of today, my role as Interim Chief of Staff to Senator Burris will end. I will resume, in full, my duties as Senior Advisor to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

I wish Senator Burris and his family the best.


Darrel Thompson

[ *** End of Update *** ]

* The President’s message to Sen. Roland Burris was subtle but clear

In what sounded like a veiled threat, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs called on Sen. Roland Burris to “take some time over the weekend” to explain once and for all exactly what happened before his appointment to the Senate and to consider “his future.”

While not saying that President Barack Obama would join the swelling chorus for Burris to quit the Senate seat, Gibbs left the impression that something like that could happen if the White House is left unsatisfied with Burris’s actions in coming days.

“The appointment of Sen. Burris and his taking the Senate seat was based largely on the … factual representations that he made to the people of Illinois through interviews and through his testimony to the impeachment committee,” Gibbs said.

“It has been reported extensively (that) some of the stories seem to be at variance with what’s happened and that the president is supportive of an investigation that would get some full story out. I think it might important for Sen. Burris to take some time this weekend to either correct what has been said and certainly think of what lays in his future,” Gibbs said.

* And a likely candidate calls for Burris’ resignation

Illinois state treasurer Alexi Giannoulias today joined other statewide officers in calling for Sen. Roland Burris to resign.

“Senator Burris’ statements have been misleading at best and make clear he was not upfront or forthright during his testimony before the Illinois House Impeachment Committee. He violated the public’s trust, which sorely needed restoring following the governor’s impeachment,” Giannoulias said in a statement.

* Notice that the operative word here is “could” and not “will”…

The Senate Ethics Committee could complete its inquiry of Roland W. Burris within weeks and without waiting for any possible criminal case about discrepancies in statements about his appointment, lawyers familiar with the panel said Friday.

Committee investigations sometimes last months and often defer to criminal cases, such as in last year’s trial of Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska. But because Burris, an Illinois Democrat, has offered multiple explanations about how he was appointed, the committee could focus on how he was seated rather than results of a potential criminal charge of perjury.

“The committee could look at this and say that the core activities here really go to the Senate appointment,” said Robert L. Walker of Wiley Rein LLP, a former chief counsel and staff director for the Senate and House ethics committees. “The committee could look at those as core Senate issues and we’re going to look at those and not defer.”

* Eric Zorn zaps one of the goofier arguments made today. And Congress Matters obliterates one of the goofiest arguments made this week.


  1. - Ghost - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 3:07 pm:

    Zorn is right, but he should seriously consider decaffe…

  2. - Rich Miller - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 3:08 pm:


    Well, at least he wasn’t trying to tell us what word to use today.

  3. - Chicago Cynic - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 3:11 pm:

    Everyone knows how this will end. The only question is one of timing. Maybe once he gets back to DC and is ostracized, he’ll get the hint. If not, Barack can drop the R bomb and then we’re done.

  4. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 3:22 pm:

    I’m not so sure Zorn was correct because Kass was ripping on the TV media that really does go soft most of the time. I think all journalist should do some of their own investigations including columnists but Kass, for all his faults, does try to did in.

  5. - Concerned Observer - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 3:36 pm:

    Staffers running for the hills!

  6. - Vote Quimby! - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 3:41 pm:

    It appears the biggest mistake in this fiasco was one made often in Illinois: taking a politican at their word, even under oath. Old-school Roland apparently thought he could tap-dance and jump through the hoops to get seated without repercussions. I think Thompson leaving is a big predictor of where this will end…

  7. - Kevin Fanning - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 3:42 pm:

    In re of Burris’ interim chief of staff resigning:
    Abandon ship!

  8. - Vote Quimby! - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 3:44 pm:

    And I thought those drumbeats were just echoes from Private Citizen Blagojevich…

  9. - Excessively rabid - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 3:45 pm:

    Please. The best option is for the GA to declare Blago was incapacitated as of his arrest and for Quinn to sign it into law. This sets the precedent that constitutional officers may not just go on with business as usual when charged with a Federal crime involving official misconduct. All actions by Blago after that become void. Burris does not need to resign because he was never a senator. Ditto the DNR mess - there is no issue about the pension because he never held the job. And so on with whatever else Blago did after his arrest - some legislation might have to be re-passed and re-signed, but that is not much of a barrier. The entire mess goes away and we can move on with business. How about it?

  10. - Rich Miller - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 3:48 pm:

    Simple solutions are almost never either.

    Your solution simply cannot legally be done.

  11. - Chicago Cynic - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 3:51 pm:

    Kass is ridiculously off base on this. It’s not about the color. Nobody in the real world has a clue who Mike Madigan is and the arguments against him are complex. Everyone knows Mayor Daley, but he is pretty close to bulletproof. When you don’t care what they say, eventually the media just accepts a new level of general corruption. Only when specific problems occur does it get dicey for hizzoner. Generally he’s like the successful celebrity brushing off the autograph seeker - “go away kid, you bother me.”

  12. - Chicago Cynic - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 3:53 pm:

    Excessively Rabid,

    Your solution is impossibly complicated. What about appropriations and other legislation approved by Rod after 12/9? What about appointments made after 12/9? Contracts? etc. This isn’t just about Roland. Government is more complicated than that.

  13. - IrishPirate - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 3:53 pm:

    I expect a speech from Roland sometime this weekend.

    It should go like his concession speech after he lost the 2002 Governor’s race. Something like:

    “For the fifth time, the trailblazing public career of Roland Burris is at an end. Roland Burris is beloved by the people of Illinois and has never lost a race to a Republican. Generations to come shall visit the gravesite of Roland Burris in homage of the great man that he was. Roland Burris will now go into retirement where he hopes to be elected President of his condominium board and will undoubtedly become a trailblazing bingo champion at the retirement center.

  14. - Silverback - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 4:03 pm:

    I wonder if the Illinois Supremes are convinced their decision was correct.

  15. - Macbeth - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 4:05 pm:

    What was Roland thinking?

  16. - Ghost - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 4:08 pm:

    Blago needs a job, Burris needs a new chief of staff….

    I prably shouldnt say that, even if it is tongue in cheeck, this is Illinois after all.

  17. - Rich Miller - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 4:13 pm:

    You forgot something, Ghost. Blagojevich still has a DC condo.

    I can see it now…

  18. - Ghost - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 4:20 pm:

    I can just see the various politicos standing around speechless, forhead veins pulsing near to bursting…

  19. - Rich Miller - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 4:21 pm:

    Yeah, let them deal with the clown show and see how they like it.

  20. - IrishPirate - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 4:22 pm:

    What’s Oberweis up to these days?

    Perhaps he and Burris could form a consulting company.

    Call it “BO” Consulting Group.

  21. - what the heck? - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 4:25 pm:

    Macbeth, He was thinking, I want to be a senator and I don’t care how I get to be one. Once I’ve got the seat, I’ll be king of the senators…

  22. - Vote Quimby! - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 4:26 pm:

    Irish…or add Blago into the mix and it would be ROB.

  23. - Been There - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 4:28 pm:

    Excessively rabid, your post reminds me of the movie It’s A Wonderful Life. But unlike the movie I don’t think we will here a bell ring and some angel gets his wings. His deeds are done and can’t be undone.

  24. - Rich Miller - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 4:29 pm:

    For some reason, I can’t get the theme song from The Odd Couple outta my head.

  25. - How Ironic - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 4:38 pm:

    Or Ebony and Ivory.

  26. - The Doc - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 4:44 pm:

    I just don’t see Burris throwing in the towel, despite the tidal wave of pols and the media pressuring him to do so. He’s too desperate to be considered viable and too egomaniacal to quit. He’ll continue to make Blago-esque claims with lots of superlatives and righteous indignation, and perhaps even play the race card as a last resort.

    He’s witnessed firsthand how spineless DC pols waffle and hedge and defer to Springfield to do the dirty work. And since he’s already burned all of his bridges with his back and forth testimony in the state capitol, there’s really nothing left to lose, save a perjury conviction. I bet he’s willing to roll the dice on that one.

  27. - How Ironic - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 4:48 pm:

    Tough to be relevant when you are the committee chair of “small change and no approps”

  28. - Excessively rabid - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 5:48 pm:

    OK, OK…. Guess we’ll just have to watch the show to the end.

  29. - Anon - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 5:49 pm:

    Did I miss this somewhere??

    Burris Spokesman Resigns
    @ 5:48 pm by Jeremy P. Jacobs

    In a move that many will undoubtedly read a lot into (including us), Sen. Roland Burris’ (D-Ill.) spokesman, Jason Erkes, is resigning.

    “I initially began helping the senator on a temporary basis because he is a long-term friend who I served several years when he was [Illinois] attorney general,” Erkes told CNN in a statement. “It is now time for me to get back to focusing on … my newly formed strategic communications business.”

  30. - Anonymous - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 6:56 pm:

    Call it “BO” Consulting Group.

    People would flock to it, believing it has something to do with our new Prez.

    Boy, wouldn’t they be surprised once they do some research (assuming they ever would) after paying a hefty, non-refundable retainer on a four-year contract!

  31. - wordslinger - Saturday, Feb 21, 09 @ 1:56 pm:

    Obama should stay out of this mess. He has enough on his plate. It will work itself out without him.

  32. - It's Just Me - Sunday, Feb 22, 09 @ 10:57 pm:

    The fact that Roland doesn’t realize he has done anything wrong is reason enough to get rid of him.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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