Durbin to Meet With Burris Tuesday Afternoon

Posted February 24, 2009 at 11:15am

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is scheduled to meet this afternoon with his embattled seat mate, Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.), who has been plagued over the past 10 days by revelations that he was asked and agreed to help former Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) raise campaign funds.

The meeting is set to begin at 2:30 p.m. in the Majority Whip’s Capitol office, with Durbin scheduled to take questions from the press afterward.

On Tuesday morning, Durbin declined to comment on what he would say to Burris in the closed-door meeting.

Asked whether he believes Burris lied to him and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) when they met with him prior to seating him as President Barack Obama’s Senate replacement, Durbin said: “I wouldn’t go that far. I do want to talk to him in my office this afternoon.”

Durbin and Reid had initially wanted to send Burris’ appointment to the Senate Rules and Administration Committee for review, but decided against it when Burris met two other conditions: that he submit the appropriate state appointment certification, and that he testify before the Illinois state legislative committee pursuing impeachment against then-Gov. Blagojevich.

“It’s easy to second-guess,” Durbin said of the decision to install Burris rather than sending the matter to the panel for further review. “We set two conditions for his appointment, and he met both conditions. … He met them, in that he testified under oath. More information has come out now, and that of course, is the nature of our continued concern.”

Blagojevich appointed Burris to replace Obama in the Senate prior to being impeached and removed from office by the Illinois Legislature.

Burris had originally said in his testimony before the Illinois General Assembly that he had minimal contact with Blagojevich before winning the appointment, but he has since revealed that he had in fact been asked by the former chief executive to raise campaign funds for him. He also revealed in a voluntary affidavit that he had contact with at least five Blagojevich associates. He testified that he only talked to one.