WASHINGTON — The White House on Friday called on embattled Illinois Sen. Roland Burris to take the weekend to think about his future.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs would not go so far as to call on Burris to resign from the Senate, as Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn did on Friday. Nor would Gibbs say that Burris has lied about the circumstances surrounding his appointment to the seat, previously held by President Barack Obama.
But Gibbs said Burris needs to "come up with an explanation that satisfies" questions about the conflicting statements he has made. Gibbs said Obama supports "an investigation that would get some full story out."
Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich appointed Burris to the seat despite a scandal over whether the state leader tried to sell the job for campaign cash or a plum post for himself. Blagojevich was later impeached and removed from office.
Burris now faces accusations that he lied to an Illinois House committee in January when he testified that he hadn't had contact with key Blagojevich staffers or offered anything in return for the seat.
Amid revelations Burris had attempted to raise money for Blagojevich and had multiple conversations with his advisers, Quinn urged Burris to step down.
"The appointment of Senator Burris was _ and his taking the Senate seat _ was based largely on the representations that he'd made, factual representations that he'd made to the people of Illinois through interviews and through his testimony to the impeachment committee," Gibbs said. "We know that _ and has been reported extensively _ that there seemed to be _ some of those stories seem to be at variance with what's happened."
The issue has been an extraordinarily sensitive one for Obama, and his usually smooth-spoken press secretary appeared at times to be struggling with what to say.
"I think it might be important for Senator Burris to take some time this weekend to either correct what has been said and _ and certainly think of what lays in his future," Gibbs said.