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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Blagojevich wants Obama subpoenaed

    CHICAGO — Attorneys for former Illinois Gov.Rod Blagojevichon Thursday asked a federal judge to subpoena PresidentBarack Obamato testify in Blagojevich’s upcoming corruption trial on charges that include allegations Blagojevich sought to sell Obama’s former Senate seat.

    The electronic court filing contained numerous blacked-out sections, but a computer glitch made them visible, including references to prosecution documents, wiretap transcripts, FBI interviews and media reports.

    Blagojevich was charged in December 2008 with using his office to enrich himself and close associates. The former Democratic governor has often suggested overzealous prosecutors are trying to turn traditional political horse trading into a federal crime, including his efforts to fill the Senate seat Obama vacated when he was elected president.

    The court document goes down that path, reciting numerous details already disclosed about contacts between the Blagojevich camp and Obama allies over who might replace Obama as Illinois’s junior U.S. senator.

    Ever since Blagojevich’s arrest, Obama has insisted he and top aides were never part of any deals for the Senate seat and were unaware Blagojevich may have been scheming to use his appointment power to enrich himself.

    There is nothing in the filing to indicate otherwise, but the suggestive nature of the allegations it outlines was sure to provide fresh fodder for critics of Obama’s connections to Chicago politics. The release of the unredacted document prompted an immediate Internet buzz, including claims from Obama critics the document called the president’s story into question.

    “”We aren’t going to comment on an on-going criminal investigation,”” said Obama’s deputy press secretary,Bill Burton.

    Blagojevich’s lawyers have previously suggested they might try to question the president.

    “”President Obamahas direct knowledge to allegations made in the indictment,”” the defense said in its filing. “”In addition,President Obama‘s public statements contradict other witness statements.””

    The defense said it still has not received notes from FBI interviews of Obama even though it first sought that material in December.

    Blagojevich’s lawyers contend some of Obama’s public remarks that no representatives of his had any stake in any alleged deals Blagojevich had over the senate seat have been contradicted by some witnesses in interviews with the FBI and federal prosecutors. That allegedly contradictory information has been blacked out of the new filing, though the defense asked in a footnote that the entire filing be unsealed.

    The filing said only Blagojevich — who is expected to testify in his own defense — and the president can corroborate some of Blagojevich’s claims that there was no conspiracy to sell the seat.

    “”President Obamais the only one who can say if emissaries were sent on his behalf, who those emissaries were, and what, if anything, those emissaries were instructed to do on his behalf,”” the motion states.

    Obama also may have pertinent information aboutAntoin “”Tony”” Rezko, a top fundraiser for the former governor and an alleged co-schemer, the defense said. The president can testify about “”Mr. Rezko’s reputation for truthfulness as well as his own opinion of Mr. Rezko’s character,”” the filing said.

    He can also give information on Rezko’s methods, the defense contended, citing an infamous real-estate deal between the Rezkos and Obamas in which Rezko paid for a strip of property next to the Obamas’ Chicago residence.

    The defense said it understands the security concerns raised by its request to question the president and then proposed conducting a videotaped deposition of him.

    The judge overseeing the criminal case against Blagojevich summoned lawyers from both sides in the case to meet with him in his chambers at 6 p.m. The meeting behind closed doors lasted less than 10 minutes.

    On exiting the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse,Sheldon Sorosky, the Blagojevich lawyer, wouldn’t directly answer reporters’ questions about whether the judge called the meeting to discuss the unintentional release of blacked-out sections of the defense filing.

    Prosecutors also declined comment as they left the courthouse.

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