Blagojevich's Lawyers Seek Subpoenaes for Emanuel, Jackson Jr.
In an effort to prove the Illinois governor's innocence, his lawyers ask the Illinois House panel to subpoena two of Obama's top aides and Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Lawyers for embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich want two key aides to President-elect Barack Obama and U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. subpoenaed, according to Chicago media reports.
Blagojevich's legal team has asked the Illinois House panel that members of Obama's incoming administration testify before the House impeachment committee, including Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett, WBBM-TV and the Chicago Sun-Times reported late Wednesday.
Ed Genson, Blagojevich's chief lawyer, said testimony from the aides will prove the governor's insistence that he did nothing illegal to fill Obama's now vacant U.S. Senate seat.
The news comes days after Obama's team released an internal review that confirmed no "inappropriate" discussions had taken place in the Blagojevich probe.
The report said Emanuel was the only adviser to talk to Blagojevich and his top aide John Harris on the subject of the Senate seat. The incoming chief of staff was authorized to pass on the names of four people he considered qualified to take over his seat: Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes, Illinois Veterans' Affairs Director Tammy Duckworth, Rep. Jan Schakowsky and Jackson Jr.
Federal prosecutors asked the Illinois House impeachment committee not to delve into the criminal charges against Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Tuesday, a request that could hasten a decision on whether to boot Blagojevich from office.
In a letter, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald warned the committee that interviewing witnesses and discussing documents related to the charges against Blagojevich could undermine his criminal investigation. He declined to give the committee documents and other information about his probe, but left open the possibility of giving the committee copies of Blagojevich conversations captured by federal wiretaps.
"Any inquiry into these topics, as well as the taking of testimony from present and former members of the governor's staff, could significantly compromise the ongoing criminal investigation," Fitzgerald wrote.
Committee members had promised to abide prosecutors' recommendations about what should be off limits, so Fitzgerald's request means the panel won't conduct its own investigation of possible criminal activity. They have said that if they can't pursue the criminal charges, then their fact-gathering work is largely done.
State Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, the committee chairwoman, said a decision on whether to recommend an impeachment vote by the full House could come the week of Jan. 5.
Blagojevich is accused of trying to use his authority as governor to appoint Obama's Senate replacement to get cash or a lucrative job for himself, starting days before Obama's Nov. 4 election through Dec. 5. The governor has denied any criminal wrongdoing and has resisted multiple calls for his resignation, including from Obama.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.