Roland Burris says the reason that he never mentioned the demand for $10,000 from Rod Blagojevich’s brother Robert to the Illinois legislature is because they never asked him about it. Mark Brown at the Chicago Sun-Times begs to differ, and he has the transcript to prove it. In his testimony, Burris had plenty of opportunity to spill the beans — and instead chose to remain silent.
Here are all the questions asked which should have prompted Burris to reveal the demand (emphases mine):
Rep. Jim 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 . . . associated with the governor about your desire to seek the appointment prior to the governor’s arrest?”
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?”
Rep. Jill Tracy: “You said that you had visited friends perhaps in September of ’08 or July of ’08 concerning a desire to perhaps be appointed as a senator if our president-elect was elected. And could you give me the names of those friends?”
Tracy: “But I think I earlier heard you today testify that in September ’08 or perhaps as early as July ’08, you had visited with some friends about your desire to seek the seat.”
Tracy: “And I just was wondering who those friends were.”
Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, the committee chairman: “Is that when you talked about your interest with Lon Monk? I think that –”
Tracy: “Was it Lon Monk, was that the extent of it was Lon Monk?
Tracy: “So you don’t recall that there was anybody else besides Lon Monk that you expressed an interest to at that point?”
Tracy: “Is there anybody that comes to mind in that light that you can –“
Read Brown’s column for Burris’ responses. Not only did the panel give Burris at least nine oppportunities to name Robert Blagojevich and his $10K demand, Durkin specifically asked Burris about the impeached governor’s brother. Burris never acknowleged it, nor did he reveal the contact, even though it went directly to the heart of the pay-for-play scandal. If that’s not perjury, it’s at least obstruction of justice.
Now Illinois Democrats wonder whether they should give Burris the heave-ho:
Several Democratic lawmakers from Illinois said Monday that they were troubled by revelations about Roland W. Burris, the state’s newest senator and a fellow Democrat. And at least one called for Mr. Burris to come before the state legislature and explain himself.
“We all have a lot of questions,” State Representative Jack D. Franks said. “He wasn’t forthcoming, and that’s the bottom line. I feel betrayed. The real problem here is the question of trust for the citizens of Illinois. We were supposed to rise to the occasion and, again, Illinois becomes the laughingstock for the nation.”
Tommy Christopher notes that even Keith Olbermann threw Burris under the bus last night with the revelation about being explicitly asked about Robert Blagojevich at the hearing. Will Harry Reid take the hint?