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Support for Roland Burris crumbles

The Illinois governor calls for him to quit, his chief of staff leaves and the White House suggests he consider 'his future.' But the embattled senator shows no signs of backing down.

February 21, 2009|Rick Pearson and Monique Garcia

CHICAGO — Support for U.S. Sen. Roland Burris crumbled Friday, as fellow Democrats from his home state of Illinois and from Washington pushed for his ouster: Gov. Pat Quinn called for his resignation, his chief of staff walked out the door and the White House urged him to use the weekend to contemplate "what lays in his future."

But Burris, who took office a little more than a month ago after his controversial appointment by then-Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich, showed no indication that he would immediately step down.

New disclosures left questions about Burris' truthfulness in sworn statements, testimony and public comments about his Blagojevich-related dealings. Blagojevich, also a Democrat, is accused of trying to sell President Obama's former Senate seat.

The new demands for Burris to quit and the ominous-sounding advice from White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs left Burris in political quarantine.

The decision by Burris' interim chief of staff, Darrell Thompson, to return to his job as senior advisor to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) demonstrated a lack of confidence by leading Senate Democrats. Burris faces a perjury investigation in Illinois and a preliminary inquiry by the Senate Ethics Committee.

Burris kept his vow not to speak to the media. "He's asked the public and officials to stop their rush to judgment and asked for the facts to come out," said Burris spokesman Jim O'Connor.

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rpearson@tribune.com

mcgarcia@tribune.com

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