BY NATASHA KORECKI, BY DAVE McKINNEY AND MARY ANN AHERN
CHICAGO–Federal authorities questioned U.S. Senator Roland Burris today at his lawyer’s office — a long-awaited interview involving his U.S. Senate seat appointment — the Sun-Times-NBC/5 team has learned.
Burris is not accused of wrongdoing but was questioned in the case that centers on ousted Gov. Blagojevich and his alleged attempts to sell President Obama’s former seat.
Authorities interviewed Burris on a Saturday at his lawyer’s office, ostensibly to keep the exchange out of the limelight Burris has recently found himself in.
Burris admitted last week that his lawyers were in contact with the FBI about sitting for an interview, but denied that the contact was his motivation for controversially amending sworn testimony before a House impeachment panel.
The interview comes a day after President Obama sent a message that Burris carefully consider his future.
A growing chorus, including most recently Gov. Quinn, has called on Burris (D-Ill) to resign after the Chicago Sun-Times first reported last week that Burris failed to initially disclose under oath to a House panel that he was hit up for campaign cash in three conversations with Blagojevich’s brother, Robert.
The U.S. Senate Select Committee on Ethics has opened a probe and the Sangamon County prosecutor is reviewing Burris’ testimony as part of a possible perjury investigation.
On Saturday, Burris spokesman Jim O’Connor refuted published reports that Burris had discussed the possibility of resignation.
“There have been no discussions on that, and he’s anxious to get back to work in Washington,” O’Connor said.
Burris is expected, in fact, to make staff appointments Monday — including a replacement for a recent chief of staff who resigned Friday, and a legislative director.
The junior senator has indicated to associates that he intends to fight the controversy because he doesn’t believe he’s engaged in any wrongdoing.
Burris testified before a House committee Jan. 8 and did not include contacts with Blagojevich’s fund-raising operation or with the former governor’s aides. After Burris was seated to his Senate seat, he amended his testimony in a new Feb. 4 affidavit, which was quietly filed and not made public until the Sun-Times report.
Burris’ appointment was under a cloud because the impeached former governor named Burris to the seat a few weeks after Blagojevich was criminally charged with trying to sell it.