Rod Blagojevich Requests Subpoena for President Obama
Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich filed a motion (available here) to have a subpoena issued to President Obama to testify at his upcoming trial. The issue: The vacant Illinois Senate seat. From the motion:
President Barack Obama has direct knowledge of the Senate seat allegation. President Obama’s testimony is relevant to three fundamental issues of that allegation. First, President Obama contradicts the testimony of an important government witness. Second, President Obama’s testimony is relevant to the necessary element of intent of the defendant. Third, President Obama is 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. All of these issues are relevant and necessary for the defense of Rod Blagojevich.
Tony Rezko is one of the government’s main witnesses.8 Mr. Rezko’s credibility is extremely relevant in this trial. In many instances, Mr. Rezko is the government’s crucial witness to prove up their allegations.9 Mr. Rezko wrote a letter to a federal judge stating “the prosecutors have been overzealous in pursuing a crime that never happened. They are pressuring me to tell them the “wrong” things that I supposedly know about Governor Blagojevich and Senator Obama. I have never been a party to any wrongdoing that involved the Governor or the Senator. I will never fabricate lies about anyone else for selfish purposes.”
So, who is the labor union official the Government claims was pushing for Blago? It's Tom Balanoff. As for Senate Candidate B, it sounds like Valerie Jarrett. Both Jarrett and Obama were interviewed by the FBI. Blago says he's requested the notes from the interview but the Government hasn't provided them. At least, Blago points out:
“There’s no allegation that the president elect – there’s no reference in the complaint to any conversations involving president elect or indicating that the president-elect was aware of it.”
"Ms. Jarrett recalls that Mr. Balanoff also told her that the Governor had raised with him the question of whether the Governor might be considered as a possible candidate to head up the Department of Health and Human Services in the new administration. Mr. Balanoff told Ms. Jarrett that he told the Governor that it would never happen. Jarrett concurred."
The report adds, "Mr. Balanoff did not suggest that the Governor, in talking about HHS, was linking a position for himself in the Obama cabinet to the selection of the President-Elect’s successor in the Senate, and Ms. Jarrett did not understand the conversation to suggest that the Governor wanted the cabinet seat as a quid pro quo."
Asked in the conference call about Balanoff raising this Blago-for-HHS idea, incoming White House counsel Greg Craig responded that Jarrett "thought it was ridiculous for the governor of Illinois to be talking about being appointed to Barack Obama's cabinet, at a time when he was under investigation ... for a variety of problems."
The Sun Times reported over a year ago that Balanoff later decided to cooperate with the feds.
Balanoff had discussions with Blagojevich on Nov. 3, Nov. 6 and Nov. 12, records show. A report released by Obama outlines his people's contacts with Blagojevich and any discussions about the Senate seat. It indicates Balanoff and Jarrett met on Nov. 7th -- a day after one of the Balanoff-Blago meeting. According to the report, Balanoff told Jarrett that Blago hoped Obama would give him the Health and Human Services appointment. Jarrett laughed it off, according to an Obama official.
But Blagojevich and Balanoff then spoke again, on Nov. 12. That's when the then-governor allegedly tells Balanoff he could expedite Jarrett's appointment in exchange for being appointed the head of a charity. Blago tells Balanoff to run the proposition "up the flagpole," according to the criminal complaint.
Blago also wants Obama to testify about Rezko's "plan, intent, habit", etc. He brings up the house deal in his motion:
Based on the relationship that President Obama and Mr. Rezko had, President Obama can provide important information as to Mr. Rezko’s plan, intent, opportunity, habit and modus operandi. See, Fed. R. Evid. 404(b) and 406. For example, in June 2005, President Obama purchased a house for $1.65 million, $300,000 below the asking price. On the same day Tony Rezko’s wife, Rita, paid full price -- $625,000 -- for the adjoining land. In January 2006, Obama paid Mr. Rezko $104,500 for a strip of the adjoining land. The transaction took place when it was widely known that Mr. Rezko was under investigation.12 President Obama’s relationship with Tony Rezko is relevant and necessary Fed. R. Evid. 404(b) and 406 evidence.
Blago cites the 6th Amendment right to confront witnesses. But, it's not absolute and a witness can have a competing constitutional right -- such as the right not to incriminate himself -- or in Obama's case, some other legal privilege. Blago's right may or may not trump the witness' rights. Blago takes a pre-emptive swing at executive privilege:
Here, President Obama is a critical witness. All of President Obama’s testimony would entail evidence he witnessed before he became president and does not involve Executive Privilege.
He says Obama is a "percipient witness."
President Obama is a witness to the conduct alleged as well as an impeachment witness to at least two of the government’s critical witnesses.
Finally, Blago says he is willing to accept Obama's testimony by video conference or at a deposition instead of a live appearance.
So, which side is subpoenaing Rahm Emanuel?
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