Burris underplayed affidavit to Reid, Durbin.

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WASHINGTON — I bet Sen. Roland Burris only casually flagged Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. Dick Durbin about the affidavit he sent to the Illinois House impeachment committee — the one where he came clean about multiple contacts with ousted Gov. Blagojevich’s brother Rob asking him for fund-raising help.

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.

What a time to pick to chat about the document sent off to the Illinois House on Feb. 5. Burris dropped the news when Reid and Durbin were on the Senate floor whipping the roll call for the stimulus bill, which passed with exactly the number of votes needed.

The entire reason Burris was even before the House impeachment panel was because Durbin and Reid made it a condition of his swiftly getting seated in the chamber. Burris took the appointment from Blagojevich after he was arrested for, among other things, trying to sell the seat Obama vacated.

Burris is now tying himself in knots parsing what he said to the impeachment panel.

Don’t be fooled.

Burris clearly had no intention of telling the whole back story leading up to Blagojevich tapping him for the spot.

At a press conference Jan. 7 in Washington — the day before he headed to Springfield to testify — I pressed Burris on the point of who he was contacting to get himself on Blagojevich’s radar.

I asked Burris that before Blagojevich’s arrest, “How were you putting yourself in play? Who were you talking to specifically?”

Burris replied, “Oh, I was putting myself in play, Lynn, by friends from Illinois and across the nation saying. . . . ‘You want to be senator, or you ought to be senator,’ you know, ‘What can we do?’

“My statement was, ‘Call the governor’s office, send an e-mail to the governor’s office, send in letters.’ And they were doing that from all over the country.”

Burris went on to babble about how one of his Centralia high school pals had called the governor’s office on his behalf. He used that press conference to create a distinctly misleading impression.

Burris created a political mess for himself. I wouldn’t be surprised if Burris squandered whatever goodwill he had with Durbin and Reid. His weak performance at his Sunday press conference provides tons of visuals for negative commercials against him. He will have difficulty fund-raising for 2010, when he will stand for election if he wants to keep the seat.

Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias is already mulling a primary bid for Burris’ seat. Durbin, by the way, is traveling to Greece, Cyprus and Turkey this week. And who is by Durbin’s side in Greece?


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