Roland Burris began Wednesday by explaining to reporters how a recording of a telephone call of him promising the brother of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich that he would "personally do something" for Blagojevich's campaign fund-- while they were discussing his interest in being appointed to the Senate-- actually proved his innocence of pay-to-play.
Burris' rough day got even worse Wednesday afternoon during a phone interview on MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews."
Burris began the interview by reiterating his innocence, saying that "there was no money ever given, nor was there any money ever raised" for Blagojevich. Then Matthews played a portion of the taped call that appears to reveal Burris' awareness of the murky waters he was navigating while campaigning for the Senate appointment:
BURRIS: I mean, I'm trying to figure out how to deal with this and still be in the consideration for the appointment.
ROB BLAGOJEVICH: I hear you. No, I hear you.
BURRIS: And if I do that, I guarantee you that that will get out and people will say, Oh, Burris is doing a fund-raiser, and then Rod and I are both going to catch hell. And if I do get appointed, that means I bought it. If I don't get appointed, then my people who I'm trying to raise money from are going to look at me and say, yes, what was that all about, Roland? I mean, so Rob, I'm in a -- I'm in a -- a dilemma right now, wanting to help the governor.
Burris denied that that implied he was engaged in a quid pro quo and said the "dilemma" he was referring to was "the fact that I wanted to try to help the governor and I couldn't because I wanted to get appointed to the seat. That's clear. If I helped him, then I would be involved in some quid pro quo."
Matthews saw it in a less flattering light:
In other words if you don't get the job that you raised the money for, your people are going to be mad at you because they didn't get the Senate seat you were supposed to get out of this deal. How is that not incriminating?