Rezko Trial: Obama As Defense Witness?
ABC News runs with the headline today, Obama: Witness for the Defense? The article has no facts, and is based on the opinion of one lawyer -- a federal prosecutor who was part of the team that prosecuted former Ill. Gov. George Ryan in 2006. Since the Ryan case, he's left the Government and has been a defense lawyer for a total of one year.
Sen. Barack Obama could be called as a witness for his longtime friend and accused Illinois fixer Tony Rezko, according to Chicago lawyers following the case.
...."I think it's realistic that that could happen during the trial," said Zach Fardon, a former Chicago federal prosecutor who was part of the team that convicted former Illinois Gov. George Ryan on corruption charges.
His theory: [More...]
Obama has said he was "unaware" of the allegedly illegal contributions Rezko insisted others make, and the Obama campaign has donated to charity some $150,000 connected to Rezko and others involved in the federal investigation.
But former prosecutor Fardon, now with the Chicago office of Latham & Watkins, says Rezko's defense lawyer could use Obama "to show that Mr. Rezko is somebody active in politics and political fundraising and there's nothing unto itself nefarious about that fact."
Sorry, there is not a snowball's chance in h*ll Obama will testify -- whether Rezko wants him to or not.
Assume Rezko or his lawyer think Obama could help Rezko. They let Obama know, through his lawyers, they would like him to be a witness and why. Obama's lawyers respond that it would probably backfire on Rezko and remind Rezko's lawyers of the things he knows that he would probably be asked on cross-examination, which when answered truthfully by Obama, would be hurtful to Rezko.
If they wanted still wanted Obama to testify, let's say on some specific incident, Obama's lawyers would just tell Rezko's lawyers that Obama's memory is weak or not definitive or Obama recalls events differently.
At that point, Rezko's lawyers are unlikely to subpoena Obama and take a chance. No defense lawyer is going to call a witness who will hurt their case -- either by not supporting the proposition they are called to testify about or because the damage likely from cross-examination outweighs the favorable point the witness would make on direct examination.
At most, they would leak something to the media through their commentator pals that Obama could help Rezko but he won't.
I think it's poor journalism for ABC News to run with this story based on one former prosecutor who is not connected to the case.
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