Judge James Zagel told the defense today they couldn't subpoena President Obama to testify at Rod Blagojevich's trial.
After court, reporters asked Blagojevich lawyer Shelly Sorosky if that means they'll give up their request.
It depends, he said.
If Tony Rezko takes the stand, then Blagojevich's defense
team might want to call the president as a witness.
Would it be good for America to have the sitting president, sitting in the hot seat in the trial of our impeached, ousted former governor?
"It would not hurt him at all," Sorosky said. "It would help his image."
April 2010 Archives
Daily Herald political reporter Joseph Ryan reports today that Rod Blagojevich's security detail was subpoenaed last year by the federal grand jury probing the former governor.
According to the story, published today, the subpoena focuses in on documents from May 12 to May 20, 2008.
From the Daily Herald report: "The week targeted by the request includes a run-up to the end of the General Assembly's session in Springfield, typically a frantic period when legislation is flying through both chambers and budget negotiations are at full tilt. Of note, lawmakers were working on final language for a pay-to-play ban targeting Blagojevich for raising lots of cash from state contractors."
The story goes on to say that it "also was the same week that a jury began deliberations in the corruption trial of Tony Rezko, Blagojevich's top fundraiser and a close adviser."
Rod Blagojevich's press people are calling it an "exclusive TV interview."
But it's really just been five days since Illinois' former governor has hit the airwaves.
He's trying to drum up an audience for tonight's talk with Fox News Channel's Greta Van Susteren.
Apparently, Blagojevich filmed the interview in his Ravenswood Manor home, according to a news release.
Last week, Blagojevich held a news conference timed for live TV newscasts where he called prosecutors "cowards" and "liars," then challenged U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to show up in court if he were "man enough."
The showdown never happened.
Blagojevich received a lengthy legal lesson from the federal judge and then held another press availability.
The next day, things exploded again, when Blagojevich's lawyers asked to subpoena President Obama as a trial witness.
But the most interesting part of that request was what the public wasn't supposed to see.
While the defense's petition to the court was partially blacked out, a computer glitch allowed complete viewing.
On Friday, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill) was dragged into the story, when he revealed the Blagojevich defense team had issued a subpoena for his testimony.
We'll see what this week brings.
A spokesman for U.S. Sen Dick Durbin (D-IL) chalked up a subpoena by the Rod Blagojevich defense as more "antics" from defense lawyers who have cast a net "from the President down to dogcatcher."
Durbin spokesman Joe Shoemaker said Durbin was served on April 16, 2010 by Rod Blagojevich's defense attorneys. The revelation came a day after defense lawyers filed a request to U.S. District Judge James Zagel, asking him to force the president to testify at the former governor's June 3 trial.
"Given the former Governor's previous antics regarding this case, it's no surprise he is casting a wide net - apparently from the President down to dogcatcher," Shoemaker said.
"We have accepted service of the subpoena and will cooperate with the court in any reasonable way. The matter has been referred to counsel, and our office will not be commenting further."
Documents made public Thursday in the case of Rod Blagojevich revealed for the first time that one day before the presidential election, Barack Obama gave a union official the green light to talk to Blagojevich about Valerie Jarrett as a possible senate seat pick.
Two sources with knowledge of the investigation confirmed to the Sun-Times that Obama called SEIU leader Tom Balanoff Nov. 3, 2008. Obama told Balanoff he preferred to have Jarrett in the White House but would not stand in her way, sources said.
Obama's December, 2008 internal report detailing his own and his staff's contacts with the Blagojevich camp, does not mention the phone call.
Here's the contents of Obama's report regarding Jarrett and Balanoff:
Ms. Jarrett had no contact or communication with Governor Blagojevich , with his Chief of
Staff, John Harris or with any other people from the Governor's office about a successor to
replace the President-Elect in the United States Senate or how the decision should be made. Nor did she understand at any time prior to his arrest that the Governor was looking to receive some form of payment or personal benefit for the appointment. Her only contact with the Governor was at the Governor's Conference in Philadelphia on December 2, 2008, over three weeks after she had decided not to pursue the Senate seat and had accepted the President-Elect's offer to work in the White House. She had a brief conversation with him on that occasion. He wished her well.
On November 7, 2008 -- at a time when she was still a potential candidate for the Senate seat -- Ms. Jarrett spoke with Mr. Tom Balanoff, the head of the Illinois chapter of the Service
Employees International Union (SEIU). Mr. Balanoff is not a member of the Governor's staff
and did not purport to speak for the Governor on that occasion. But because the subject of the Governor's interest in a cabinet appointment came up in that conversation, I am including a description of that meeting.
Mr. Balanoff told Ms. Jarrett that he had spoken to the Governor about the possibility of
selecting Valerie Jarrett to replace the President-Elect. He told her that Lisa Madigan's name
also came up.
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.
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 for selecting any specific candidate to be the President-Elect's
replacement. At no time did Balanoff say anything to her about offering Blagojevich a union
Attorneys in the case of Rod Blagojevich were summoned to Judge James Zagel's courtroom today for a 6 p.m. hearing following a glitch in a defense filing today involving President Obama. The hearing is not expected to be open to the public.
The glitch allowed the public to view blacked out portions of the document.
The 11-page filing was again placed under seal.
ADD: Lawyers did not comment on the hearing after court today.
Today's new filing by the defense indicates that Tony Rezko provided FBI agents and prosecutors information regarding President Obama in debriefing sessions since his 2008 conviction, including that he once allegedly "transmitted a quid pro quo offer," from a lobbyist to a public official -- the public official turned down the offer.
Defense lawyers say they believe the public official to be Barack Obama.
"Tony Rezko stated in interviews with the government that he believed he transmitted a quid pro quo offer from a lobbyist to the public official," a defense filing in federal court indicates. The information is blacked out in the filing, but a glitch in the system actually reveals the text.
"President Obama is the only one who can testify as to the veracity of Mr. Rezko's allegations above," they wrote.
According to the filing, government lawyers and defense lawyers in the Blagojevich case recently met privately in the judge's chambers, where the government turned over a three-sentence letter indicating that Rezko: "has stated in interviews with the government that he engaged in election law violations by personally contributing a large sum of cash to the campaign of a public official who is not Rod Blagojevich," the filing says, but notes that the public official did not know of the straw donations.
"The defense has a good faith belief that Mr. Rezko, President Obama's former friend, fund-raiser, and neighbor told the FBI and the United States Attorneys a different story about President Obama," defense lawyers wrote.
The filing comes as defense lawyers say they want to call President Obama to testify at trial.
They say he was involved in discussions involving Valerie Jarrett as a possible Senate pick. Citing FBI reports, defense lawyers wrote that Obama made a phone call regarding his soon-to-be-vacant Senate seat a day before he was elected president.
"Yet, despite President Obama stating that no representatives of his had any part of any deals, labor union president told the FBI and the United States Attorneys that he spoke to labor union official on November 3, 2008 who received a phone message from Obama that evening," defense lawyers wrote. "After labor union official listened to the message labor union official told labor union president "I'm the one". Labor union president took that to mean that labor union official was to be the one to deliver the message on behalf of Obama that Senate Candidate B was his pick."
The statements made by the union official to the FBI -- as relayed through Blagojevich's criminal defense lawyers -- appear to contradict slightly with Obama's recollection of events regarding Jarrett and Blagojevich's ability to appoint somebody to fill Obama's former Senate seat.
More than a month after Blagojevich's arrest, a lawyer for the then-president-elect issued a report about "any staff contacts or communications" between Obama and his inner circle "relating to the President-elect's successor in the United States Senate."
"In various conversations with transition staff and others, the President-elect expressed his preference that Valerie Jarrett work with him in the White House," the report states. "He also stated that he woule neither stand in her way iif she wanted to pursue the Senate seat nor actively seek to have her or any other particilar candidate appointed to the vacancy."
This motion was filed in the case of Rod Blagojevich today with portions blacked out so it would be kept out of public view.
But a computer glitch makes the blacked out portions completely viewable -- creating an even bigger story about President Obama, including revelations that he personally made a phone call about the Senate seat one day before his election.
Here's the full text of the federal court filing, which include statements made by government witnesses to the FBI and the reasons why Rod Blagojevich's defense team wants President Obama to testify at trial.
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA )
v. ) 08CR888
) Judge James B. Zagel
ROD BLAGOJEVICH )
MOTION FOR THE COURT TO ISSUE A TRIAL SUBPOENA TO
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA
Now Comes Defendant Rod Blagojevich, by and through his counsels and hereby
requests this court issue a subpoena ad testificandum for President Barack Obama. In support of
said motion, defendant states the following:1
1. President Barack Obama was elected November 4, 2008 and was inaugurated January
20, 2009. Before being elected President, Mr. Obama was a United States Senator
2. As a result of the election of Mr. Obama, his Senate seat was open for appointment by
Governor Rod Blagojevich.
3. The charges against Mr. Blagojevich stem from his appointment of President-elect
Obama's vacated Senate seat.
4. According to media reports, President Obama was interviewed by two United States
attorneys and two FBI agents for two hours.2
1 Although it is the defense's position that all tapes and sealed information be made public, to comply with the
Protective Order of April 14, 2009, portions that contain sealed information provided by the government have been
redacted. The defense, however, urges this Court unseal the entire motion. See, this court's order dated April 14,
2010 (document 305) "Redaction, in cases where the redacted words are relevant to the case and considered in
reaching a decision, is still permitted but discouraged." See In re Krynicki, 983 F.2d 74, 75 (7th Cir. 1992)
("Information that is used at trial or otherwise become the basis of decision enters the public record.") (citation
omitted). The case for redaction has to be proven not presumed. ... But it is clear that the remedy to the objection
that a portion of a statement may be misleading to the public (and the jury pool) is not redaction but disclosure of the
omitted portion. Disclosure of written material a month and a half before the beginning of trial does not come close
to presenting a significant threat that a fair jury cannot be found. The experience of the courts in cases which attract
significant news coverage has shown that pretrial news reporting is an overstated menace to fair jury trials."
2 "Barack Obama questioned by FBI agents over Blagojevich Illinois senate seat scandal", Toby Harnden, The
Telegraph, December 26, 2008.
Case 1:08-cr-00888 Document 327 Filed 04/22/10 Page 1 of 11
5. On December 19, 2009, the defense filed a Motion for Discovery. In that motion, the
defense requested all notes, transcripts, and reports generated from the government's
interview of President Barack Obama.
6. As of today's date, the defense has not received any notes, transcripts, or reports from
President Obama's interview with the government.
7. The government alleges that Defendant Rod Blagojevich met "with a labor union
official who he believed to be in contact with the President-elect in regard to the
vacant Senate seat, and suggested to the labor union official that Rod Blagojevich
would appoint Senate Candidate B to the vacant Senate seat in exchange for Rod
Blagojevich being named Secretary of Health and Human Services." (Indictment p.
101, para. 10(c)).
8. President Obama has stated publicly that he was "confident that no representatives of
mine would have any part of any deals3 related to this seat."4
9. Yet, despite President Obama stating that no representatives of his had any part of
any deals, labor union president told the FBI and the United States Attorneys that he
spoke to labor union official on November 3, 2008 who received a phone message
from Obama that evening. After labor union official listened to the message
labor union official told labor union president "I'm the one". Labor union
president took that to mean that labor union official was to be the one to deliver
the message on behalf of Obama that Senate Candidate B was his pick. (Labor
union president 302, February 2, 2009, p. 7).
10. Labor union official told the FBI and the United States Attorneys "Obama expressed
his belief that [Senate Candidate B] would be a good Senator for the people of
Illinois and would be a candidate who could win re-election. [Labor union
official] advised Obama that [labor union official] would reach out to Governor
Blagojevich and advocate for [Senate Candidate B].. . . [Labor union official]
called [labor union president] and told [labor union president] that Obama was
aware that [labor union official] would be reaching out to Blagojevich." (Labor
union official 302, February 3, 2009 p. 3).
3 Deal is defined as a "transaction; bargain; contract; an arrangement for mutual advantage." Merriam-Webster
Online Dictionary. A deal requires two willing participants.
4 President-elect Barack Obama press conference, December 11, 2008.
Case 1:08-cr-00888 Document 327 Filed 04/22/10 Page 2 of 11
11. According to Senate Candidate B, on November, 4 2008, Senate Candidate B
spoke with labor union official about the Senate seat. Labor union official said
he spoke to Obama. Labor union official said he was going to meet with
Blagojevich and said "he was going to push Blagojevich hard on this. According
to Senate Candidate B, labor union official's language could have been stronger
than the language that she was reporting to the government." (Senate Candidate
B 302, December 19, 2008).
12. On November 5, 2008, Blagojevich told John Harris that labor union official "talked
to Barack Obama, wants to come and see me." Blagojevich then told Harris that
labor union official "was very explicit with me, "I talked to Barack about the
Senate seat. Can I come and see ya? Can I do it tomorrow?' I said, sure."
(Blagojevich Home Phone Call # 261).
13. A supporter of Presidential Candidate Obama suggested that she talk to the wife of
Governor Blagojevich about Senate Candidate B for Senator. (Valerie Jarrett
302, December 19, 2008). Supporter of Presidential Candidate Obama is
mentioned in a phone call on November 3, 2008, having offered "fundraising" in
exchange for Senate Candidate B for senator (Blagojevich Home Phone Call #
14. President Obama has direct knowledge to allegations made in the indictment. In
addition, President Obama's public statements contradict other witness statements,
specifically those made by labor union official and Senate Candidate B. It is
anticipated that labor union official will be a witness for the government. His
accounts of events directly related to the charges in the indictment are contradicted by
President Obama's public statement.
15. Even the prosecutor in this case indicated "there's no allegation that the presidentelect
- there's no reference in the complaint to any conversations involving presidentelect
or indicating that the president-elect was aware of it."5
16. There are two conflicting stories and the defense has the right to admit evidence that
contradicts the government's claims. Only President Obama can do this.
17. President-elect Obama also spoke to Governor Blagojevich on December 1, 2008
in Philadelphia. On Harris Cell Phone Call # 139, John Harris and Governor's
legal counsel discuss a conversation Blagojevich had with President-elect
"Fitzgerald Press Conference on Blagojevich. Transcript." Chicago Sun Times, Lynn Sweet, December 9, 2008.
Case 1:08-cr-00888 Document 327 Filed 04/22/10 Page 3 of 11
Obama. The government claims a conspiracy existed from October 22, 2008
continuing through December 9, 2008.6 That conversation is relevant to the defense
of the government's theory of an ongoing conspiracy. Only Rod Blagojevich and
President Obama can testify to the contents of that conversation. The defense is
allowed to present evidence that corroborates the defendant's testimony.7
18. President-elect Obama also suggested Senate Candidate A to Governor Blagojevich.
John Harris told the FBI and the United States Attorneys that he spoke to
President's Chief of Staff on November 12, 2008. Harris took notes of the
conversation and wrote that President's Chief had previously worked as
Blagojevich's press secretary. Obama agreed of Staff told Harris that Senate
Candidate A was acceptable to Obama as a senate pick. (Harris handwritten
notes, OOG1004463) President's Chief of Staff told the FBI that "he could not
say where but somewhere it was communicated to him that" Senate Candidate A
was a suggested candidate viewed as one of the four "right" candidates "by the
Obama transition team." (Rahm Emanuel 302, p. 5, December 20, 2008). Harris
told Blagojevich Obama's suggestion on November 12, 2008 (Blagojevich Home
Phone Call # 539).
19. President-elect Obama was also involved in other senate candidate choices. On
December 8, 2008, John Harris' secretary's call log noted President's Chief of
Staff called at 10:47 am and wrote "needs to talk to you asap" (Harris 302,
February 20, 2009). President's Chief of Staff told the FBI that he had a
conversation discussing the Senate seat with Obama on December 7, 2008 in
Obama's car. President's Chief of Staff told the FBI "Obama expressed concern
about Senate Candidate D being appointed as Senator. [President's Chief of
Staff] suggested they might need an expanded list to possibly include names of
African Americans that came out of the business world. [President's Chief of
Staff] thought he suggested Senate Candidate E who was the head of the Urban
6 See, Paragraph 38, Indictment entitled "Efforts to Obtain Personal Financial Benefits for ROD BLAGOJEVICH in
Return for his Appointment of a United States Senator." The paragraph states: "Beginning in or about October
2008, and continuing until on or about December 9, 2008 . . ."
7 See, Wisconsin ex rel. Monsoor v. Gagnan, 497 F.2d 1126 (7th Cir. 1974) (holding that the state trial court
committed reversible error and violated the defendant's Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial and compulsory
process by striking the testimony of the only corroborating witness to a phone call that related directly to the
defendant's defense), citing Braswell v.Wainwright, 463 F.2d 1148, 1155-56 (5th Cir. 1972) (holding that "Closely
related to [the defendant's] Sixth Amendment right is his right to a fair trial - - to due process. [The defendant] had a
right to at least present the testimony of his sole corroborating witness to the jury. That the jury might still have
returned a guilty verdict is beside the point; judgment of the credibility of witnesses is for the trier of fact.")
Case 1:08-cr-00888 Document 327 Filed 04/22/10 Page 4 of 11
League and with President's Chief of Staff's suggestion." (President's Chief of
Staff, 302, 12-20-08).
20. 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.
21. 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." (Exhibit A)
22. However, the defense has a good faith belief that Mr. Rezko, President Obama's
former friend, fund-raiser, and neighbor told the FBI and the United States Attorneys
a different story about President Obama. In a recent in camera proceeding, the
government tendered a three paragraph letter indicating that Rezko "has stated
in interviews with the government that he engaged in election law violations by
personally contributing a large sum of cash to the campaign of a public official
who is not Rod Blagojevich. ... Further, the public official denies being aware of
cash contributions to his campaign by Rezko or others and denies having
conversations with Rezko related to cash contributions. ... Rezko has also stated
in interviews with the government that he believed he transmitted a quid pro quo
offer from a lobbyist to the public official, whereby the lobbyist would hold a
fundraiser for the official in exchange for favorable official action, but that the
8 The defense has requested that the government provide a witness list. To date, the government has not provided a
list of witnesses.
9 See, Counts 1, 2, and 3 of the Indictment. The Pension Obligation Bond Deal ( p. 9 (para. 7), p. 48 (para. 6)); The
Solicitation of Ali Ata (p. 9 (para. 9)), Benefits Given to Rod Blagojevich (Rezko directed or provided payments to
Rod Blagojevich's wife) (p. 53 (para. 9 (a.), (b.), (c.))), Blagojevich used the power of the Office of the Governor to
give Rezko substantial influence over appointments to boards and commissions (p. 8 (para. 5)) (p. 13 (para. 18)) (p.
42 (para. 4-5)) (p. 47 (para. 4)) (p. 53 (para. 17)).
Case 1:08-cr-00888 Document 327 Filed 04/22/10 Page 5 of 11
public official rejected the offer. The public official denies any such
conversation. In addition, Rezko has stated to the government that he and the
public official had certain conversations about gaming legislation and
administration, which the public official denies having had."10
23. President Obama is the only one who can testify as to the veracity of Mr. Rezko's
24. President Obama has pertinent information as to the character of Mr. Rezko.
President Obama can testify to Mr. Rezko's reputation for truthfulness as well as his
own opinion of Mr. Rezko's character. See, Fed. R. Evid. 405(a) and 608. Mr.
Rezko and President Obama became friends in 1990. According to President Obama,
Mr. Rezko raised as much as $60,000 in campaign contributions for Obama.11
25. 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.
26. Regarding a Presidential subpoena, the Supreme Court has held that:
"The right to the production of all evidence at a criminal trial . . . has
constitutional dimensions. The Sixth Amendment explicitly confers upon
10 The defense has a good faith belief that this public official is Barack Obama. See, "Obama on Rezko deal: It
was a mistake", Dave McKinney, Chris Fusco, and Mark Brown, Chicago Sun Times, November 5, 2006. Senator
Barack Obama was asked: "Did Rezko or his companies ever solicit your support on any matter involving state or
federal government? Did Al Johnson, who was trying to get a casino license along with Tony Rezko, or Rezko
himself ever discuss casino matters with you?" Senator Obama answered: "No, I have never been asked to do
anything to advance his business interest. In 1999, when I was a State Senator, I opposed legislation to bring a
casino to Rosemont and allow casino gambling at docked riverboats which news reports said Al Johnson and Tony
Rezko were interested in being part of. I never discussed a casino license with either of them. I was a vocal
opponent of the legislation." Obama's involvement with Tony Rezko and this legislation coincides with the
three paragraph summary the government has provided to the defense referenced above.
"Obama on Rezko deal: It was a mistake", Dave McKinney, Chris Fusco, and Mark Brown, Chicago Sun Times,
November 5, 2006.
"8 Things you need to know about Obama and Rezko", Tim Novak, Chicago Sun Times, January 24, 2008.
Case 1:08-cr-00888 Document 327 Filed 04/22/10 Page 6 of 11
every defendant in a criminal trial the right 'to be confronted with the
witnesses against him' and 'to have compulsory process for obtaining
witnesses in his favor.' Moreover, the Fifth Amendment also guarantees that
no person shall be deprived of liberty without due process of law. It is the
manifest duty of the courts to vindicate those guarantees, and to accomplish
that it is essential that all relevant and admissible evidence be produced."
United States v. Nixon, 418 US 683, 711 (1974).
27. Although it is not commonplace to subpoena a sitting President, the Supreme Court
has noted that sitting Presidents have been subpoenaed by federal courts with
"sufficient frequency that such interactions between the Judicial and Executive
branches can scarcely be thought a novelty." Clinton v. Jones, 520 US 681, 704, 137
L.Ed. 2d 945, 967 (1997).
28. Indeed, history is replete with cases in which Presidents have been subpoenaed or
have provided evidence in federal cases.13
29. In addition to criminal trials, Theodore Roosevelt, Harry Truman and John F.
Kennedy were defendants in civil cases involving actions prior to taking office.
Clinton v. Jones, 520 US at 692, citing People ex rel. Hurley v. Roosevelt, 179 N.Y.
544, 71 N.E. 1137 (1904); DeVault v. Truman, 354 Mo. 1193, 194 S.W.2d 29 (1946);
Bailey v. Kennedy, No. 757,200 (Cal. Super. Ct. 1960); Hills v. Kennedy, No. 757,201
(Cal. Super. Ct. 1960). President Nixon was deposed in several civil actions and
13 See, United States v. Burr, 25 F. Cas. 30 (No. 14,692d) (CC Va. 1807) (President Thomas Jefferson ordered to
comply with a subpoena duces tecum in the trial of Aaron Burr); Rotunda, Presidents and Ex-Presidents as
Witnesses: A Brief Historical Footnote, 1975 U. Ill. L. F. 1, 5-6 (referencing President Monroe's answers to
interrogatories in the trial of an appointee, whose meetings with the President were cited as contributing factors to
accusations he received his job appointment under "intrigue and misconduct" and also references a lengthy
deposition given by President Grant in a criminal case); United States v. Nixon, 418 US 683, 41 L.Ed. 2d 1039
(1974) (The Supreme Court held that President Nixon was obligated to comply with a subpoena duces tecum in a
criminal trial); United States v. Poindexter, 732 F. Supp. 142, 145, citing to United States v. Mitchell, 385 F.Supp
1190 (D.D.C. 1974) and United States v. Haldeman, 559 F.Supp.2d 31, 80-81 (D.C. Cir. 1976) (where President
Nixon was subpoenaed by the Government and defendants in criminal trials of his appointees resulting from the
Watergate scandal); United States v. Fromme, 405 F.Supp. 578 (ED Cal. 1975) (where President Ford was
subpoenaed and deposed as a defense witness in the criminal trial of the woman accused of attempting to assassinate
him); United States v. Poindexter, 732 F.Supp. at 145 (D.D.C. 1990) (referring to President Carter's videotaped
deposition in a criminal trial and a separate grand jury investigation); Id., at 144-46, 159-60 (where President
Reagan was ordered to testify via videotaped deposition in the criminal trial resulting from the Iran-Contra affair);
and Clinton v. Jones, 520 US at 705, citing United States v. McDougal, 934 F. Supp. 296 (ED Ark. 1996) and
United States v. Branscum, No. LRP-CR-96-49 (ED Ark., June 7, 1996) (referencing President Clinton's compelled
testimony via videotaped deposition in two criminal proceedings, including as an impeachment witness for the
defense in the McDougal case).
Case 1:08-cr-00888 Document 327 Filed 04/22/10 Page 7 of 11
Presidents Lincoln, T. Roosevelt, Tyler and Adams were compelled to appear before
congressional committees. United States v. Poindexter, 732 F. Supp at 145.
30. It is well settled that the Federal Courts have subpoena power over a sitting
President. Chief Justice Marshall's early opinion from the Burr case has
been "unequivocally and emphatically endorsed" by the Supreme Court and
other federal courts. See, United States v. Nixon, 418 US at 706; Clinton v.
Jones, 520 US at 704.
"Whatever difference may exist with respect to the power to compel the
same obedience to the process, as if it had been directed to a private
citizen, there exists no difference with respect to the right to obtain it. ...
The guard, furnished to this high officer, to protect him from being
harassed by vexatious and unnecessary subpoenas, is to be looked for in
the conduct of a court after those subpoenas have issued; not in any
circumstance which is to precede their being issued." United States v.
Fromme, 405 F. Supp. At 582, citing United States v. Burr, at p.30.
31. The Supreme Court has consistently ruled that "the twofold aim [of criminal justice]
is that guilt shall not escape or innocence suffer." United States v. Nixon, supra, citing
Berger v. United States, 295 US 78, 88 (1935). The Court continued, in Nixon, that
"the need to develop all relevant facts in the adversary system is both fundamental
and comprehensive. The ends of criminal justice would be defeated if judgments were
to be founded on a partial or speculative presentation of the facts. . . To ensure that
justice is done, it is imperative to the function of courts that compulsory process be
available for the production of evidence needed either by the prosecution or by the
defense." United States v. Nixon, 418 US at 709. In sum,
[Federal precedent holds that] no person, even a President, is above the
law and that in appropriate judicial proceedings, documents and other
tangible evidence within the very office of the President may be obtained
for use in those judicial proceedings. Similarly, where the President
himself is a percipient witness to an alleged criminal act, the President
must be amenable to subpoena as any other person would be. United
States v. Fromme,405 F.Supp. at 582 (emphasis added).
32. 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. As the District Court ruled in Fromme:
Case 1:08-cr-00888 Document 327 Filed 04/22/10 Page 8 of 11
"Notwithstanding the burden which is imposed on the person of the
President if he is called to testify as a witness in a criminal trial, this
court has an even heavier burden to ensure a fair and a speedy trial to
the accused, with total regard for all the rights and protections afforded
an accused under the law of this land.
'[The] allowance of the [Executive] privilege to withhold evidence that
is demonstrably relevant in a criminal trial would cut deeply into the
guarantee of due process of law and gravely impair the basic function of
the courts.'" United States v. Fromme, 405 F.Supp. at 583 (emphasis
added)(citations omitted), citing United States v. Nixon, 418 US at 712.
33. President Obama has direct and intimate knowledge of facts alleged in the indictment.
Indeed, the President is a percipient witness. United States v. Fromme, 405 F.Supp.
at 581. 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.14
34. The defense does not take lightly the overwhelming schedule the President has and
the security constraints surrounding his testimony. A videotape deposition will
remedy both of those legitimate concerns. See, Fed. R. Crim. Pro. 15 and see also,
United States v. Fromme, 405 F.Supp. at 582 (videotape deposition "protect[s] the
accused's rights under the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution while
at the same time imposing the least onerous burden on the person and the office of the
President of the United States.").
35. The defense requests that, if this court grants a videotape deposition in lieu of in-court
testimony, defense counsel be permitted to conduct the examination of President
Obama after the government's case in chief. See, United States v. McDougal, 103
F.3d 651 (ED Ark. 1996) and 943 F.Supp. 296 (ED Ark. 1996) (videotaped
deposition of President Clinton which took place at the White House, and because
President Clinton was called as a defense witness to impeach David Hale, the Court
ordered that President Clinton not testify until after the in-court testimony of David
36. The defendant has a right to put on a case and challenge the allegations the
government attempts to prove. President Obama is relevant and necessary to the
14 Joseph Aramanda is another government witness that President Obama can testify to as well. Joseph Aramanda's
son, John Aramanda, received an internship with then-Senator Obama. Joseph Aramanda contributed $11,500 to
Obama since 2000 and John Aramanda was recommended by Tony Rezko. Internship also links Obama, Rezko,
Frank Main, Chicago Sun-Times, December 24, 2006. President Obama will be able to provide relevant information
as to Joseph Aramanda. See, para. 24 and 25, supra.
Case 1:08-cr-00888 Document 327 Filed 04/22/10 Page 9 of 11
defendant's case. The defense understands that the President of the United States of
America is not a routine witness and would not request his appearance if it did not
think he was critical to the liberty of Rod Blagojevich. Whatever security or
scheduling concerns can be reduced by arranging for the most convenient
presentation of testimony. The President can testify via video conference or can be
deposed outside of court at an evidence deposition. These options would satisfy the
defendant's fundamental right to a fair trial and security and scheduling concerns.
37. The defense requests this court grant this motion not because Rod Blagojevich was
the Governor of Illinois, but because he is a defendant in a criminal case where his
liberty and freedom are at stake. Likewise, the defense requests this court grant this
motion to issue a subpoena ad testificandum to President Obama, not because he is
the President of the United States, but rather because he is a witness necessary to Rod
Blagojevich's Constitutional right to a fair trial. Justice requires no more and no less.
"it would be inconceivable -- in a Republic that subscribes neither to the
ancient doctrine of the divine right of kings nor to the more modern
conceit of dictators that they are not accountable to the people whom
they claim to represent or to their courts of law -- to exempt [the
President] from the duty of every citizen to give evidence that will
permit the reaching of a just outcome of this criminal prosecution.
Defendant has shown that the evidence of the . . . President is needed to
protect his right to a fair trial, and he will be given the opportunity to
secure that evidence." United States v. Poindexter, 732 F. Supp at 159.
WHEREFORE, defendant Rod Blagojevich respectfully requests this Honorable Court
order the government turn over to the defense any and all reports generated during any and all
interviews had with President Barack Obama and issue a subpoena ad testificandum for
President Obama to appear at the trial of United States v. Rod Blagojevich.
/s/ Sam Adam
Samuel E. Adam
6133 S. Ellis
Chicago, IL 60637
Attorneys for Rod Blagojevich, Defendant
Case 1:08-cr-00888 Document 327 Filed 04/22/10 Page 10 of 11
CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
The undersigned hereby certifies that Defendant's MOTION FOR THE COURT TO
ISSUE A TRIAL SUBPOENA TO PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA was served on April 22,
2010, in accordance with Fed. R. Crim. P. 49, Fed. R. Civ. P. LR 5.5, and the General Order on
Electronic Case Filing (ECF) pursuant to the district court's system as to ECF filers.
/s/ Sam Adam
One of the attorneys for Rod Blagojevich
Case 1:08-cr-00888 Document 327 Filed 04/22/10 Page 11 of 11
Defense lawyers in the case of Rod Blagojevich moved today to issue a trial subpoena to the President of the United States, asking for his testimony at this June's trial.
They argue in a federal court filing that President Obama would act as a corroborating witness to former governor Blagojevich.
"There are two conflicting stories and the defense has the right to admit evidence that
contradicts the government's claims. Only President Obama can do this," defense lawyers wrote.
Last year, Blagojevich's lawyers asked for FBI reports of an interview with President Obama.
The White House has declined comment.
"As of today's date, the defense has not received any notes, transcripts, or reports from
President Obama's interview with the government," defense lawyers wrote.
"President Obama has direct knowledge to allegations made in the indictment. In
addition, President Obama's public statements contradict other witness statements,
specifically those made by labor union official and Senate Candidate B (Valerie Jarrett). It is anticipated that labor union official will be a witness for the government. His
accounts of events directly related to the charges in the indictment are contradicted by
President Obama's public statement," defense lawyers wrote.
Blagojevich's lawyers had no immediate comment on their filing.
In December, the Chicago Sun-Times reported the Blagojevich defense sought FBI interview information regarding President Obama, to get an early line on whether they would seek to call Obama as a witness.
Obama, whose seat was left vacant after he was elected president in 2008, was interviewed by the FBI before he officially took office. He is not accused of wrongdoing. It was his seat that was up for grabs and at issue in the case of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
At one point, White House adviser Valerie Jarrett was interested in the post and prosecutors allege that Blagojevich tried to leverage that interest into campaign cash, or a job for himself. Blagojevich has denied the charge.
She, too, was interviewed by the FBI in December 2008.
Experts have told the Sun-Times that while presidents
are subject to be called to trial -- President Bill Clinton gave a
videotaped deposition in a civil case -- the White House can cite
everything from national security to schedule conflicts to avoid
the witness chair.
Blagojevich's lawyers would have to persuade Judge James Zagel that written
or video testimony was no substitute.
The Sun-Times has reported that Rahm Emanuel is on tape discussing the
Senate seat opening with the ex-governor. Jarrett was interested in
the seat early on, and Blagojevich is heard on tape talking about
trying to get money or a job in exchange for giving her the seat.
Blagojevich attempted to use top labor official Tom Balanoff as an intermediary.
Read the defense filing here
This week he was in federal court. This weekend, Rod Blagojevich is slotted to be a guest speaker involving one of Elvis Presley's stepbrothers. Blagojevich is a longtime Elvis aficionado and has been known to impersonate the King.
This from Blagojevich's PR people:
PRNewsChannel) / April 21, 2010 / OAK LAWN, Ill. / Former Illinois governor and life-long Elvis Presley admirer Rod Blagojevich has accepted an invitation to attend a speaking event featuring Rick Stanley, one of Elvis' stepbrothers to be held at the Oak Lawn First Church of the Nazarene on Saturday, April 24th at 6:30pm.
"He is probably the most well-known Elvis fan there is in Chicago and I thought he would enjoy meeting Rick and hearing what he had say," says Jeff Grindle, associate pastor at the church and organizer of the event. "I also wanted the governor to know that I was praying for him and he had a friend here."
Stanley is one of the three stepbrothers Presley had when his father remarried. In a true, rags-to-riches story, Stanley went from living at a foster care facility to living with Elvis at Graceland. In his insightful look into Elvis' inner circle and private life, Stanley shares the details of Presley's generous and loving nature.
"(After we arrived at Graceland) We woke up the next day to find three bikes, three dogs, three cats, three ponies, three swing sets; three of everything little boys would want," says Stanley. "Elvis had sent his employees to stores that night to find everything and he broke his sleeping-all-day routine just so he could see our faces when we saw all this stuff!"
Stanley's story will give a family member's insight into what Elvis was really like.
Earlier this year, the former Illinois governor was named the #2 all-time Elvis impersonator by TIME magazine, and became an Internet sensation after performing an Elvis classic at a corporate event in Chicago last year.
"It was so nice of the pastor to reach out to me like this and to invite me to the event," says Blagojevich. "I look forward to meeting the pastor, Rick Stanley and everyone at the Elvis event."
The event is free and open to the public.
For more information on the event, please visit www.OakLawnFirst.org, or call (708)-599-5559
After much bombastic talk yesterday, Rod Blagojevich walked into the federal courthouse today without comment.
He was greeted by about half a dozen people, of varying ages, who had been positioned inside security for some time.
When Blagojevich came through, they in unison put up cell phone cameras to snap pictures or roll video. They cheered, clapped and screamed: "thank you, thank you!" and "go get him Rod!"
"God bless you," he said and stopped to shake hands and give hugs.
Blagojevich is here for a previously scheduled noon hearing.
A long line of spectators is snaking out the courtroom hallway one day after Blagojevich asked U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to show up in court if he were "man enough."
Rod Blagojevich is expected to show up in federal court today one day after he challenged U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to a showdown here.
Observers are interested to see whether U.S. District Judge James Zagel will try to muzzle the former governor after he held a news conference yesterday to discuss his case.
It was carried live on several TV networks.
Blagojevich is expected to be more low-key today.
The Chicago Sun-Times photo-shopped this Blagojevich's image over John Wayne photo and ran it on our front page after then-Gov. Blagojevich held a news conference in Chicago the summer of 2008 to offer state police services to help curb city violence.
After his arrest months later, I was combing through Blagojevich phone records and the same day the photo ran, Blagojevich called the newspaper's publisher at the time, John Cruickshank.
Blagojevich wanted to talk about "today's front page," according to the former governor's phone log.
Blagojevich on Tuesday challenged U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to show up in court to talk about why prosecutors won't play all the tapes in the case. U.S. District Judge James Zagel has already ruled that all the tapes -- 500 hours' worth -- cannot be played.
In a news conference outside his lawyers' South Side office, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich outright asked for a showdown with U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.
Blagojevich said he would go to court tomorrow and he hoped Fitzgerald "was man enough to be there too."
He called federal prosecutors "cowards and liars," for "hitting below the belt" and lodging allegations against his wife, Patti, last week as well as for opposing his playing all the secret FBI tapes in court.
"They're now hitting below the belt and attacking my wife," Rod Blagojevich said of allegations last week that his wife, whom he referred to as "a licensed professional" was essentially a ghost pay-roller for convicted political fixer Tony Rezko. Blagojevich spoke directly to Patrick Fitzgerald, essentially challenging the U.S. Attorney to show up to the courthouse tomorrow and talk about playing all the tapes.
U.S. District Judge James Zagel has previously entered a ruling barring all of the tapes in the case from being played.
Blagojevich's remarks, broadcast live on at least three TV channels, come after federal prosecutors made public last week a key document in the case, revealing that some of the former governor's closest friends have been talking to prosecutors for months.
Here's what he said:
"Last week in their proffer of lies, they're now hitting below the belt and attacking my wife. They are cowards and they are liars.
Patti is a devoted mother. She's a loving wife. She's a licensed professional, she is capable, she is competent. All the money that she earned she worked for and paid taxes on.
And while they were lying on her last week, they're now sneaking into court tomorrow, to file a motion to try to keep all the tapes from being heard.
They know when all those tapes are going to be played, they will show I've done nothing wrong, they'll prove my innocence and that Patti did nothing wrong.
The second reason they're doing this, is the reason they know and we know: there's a smoking gun on those tapes and the smoking gun is that the government is covering up the big lie that Fitzgerald gave to the world when he had me arrested on December the 9th and he told the whole world that he heard tapes and he heard telephone conversations and had to arrest a sitting governor because he was: 'stopping a crime spree before it happened.' That is a lie. And the reason they won't play all those tapes is because they're covering up that big lie that foreseeably led to a chain of events that stole a governor from the people of Illinois and undid the will of the people.
I challenge Mr. Fitzgerald. Why don't you show up in court tomorrow and explain to everybody, say to the whole world why you don't want those tapes that you made played in court.
I'll be in court tomorrow, I hope you're man enough to be there tomorrow, too."
There is a previously scheduled court status in the case tomorrow at noon.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys who are trying the case will be there. Fitzgerald isn't expected to be.
Blagojevich's comments were forceful but brief. He took no questions.
One reporter shouted: "Are you attempting to influence the jury pool?"
He continued walking back into his lawyers' office, without answering.
A news release from his PR people created some anticipation, saying Blagojevich was expected to make: "the strongest public statement to date concerning the charges he is facing."
The former governor's comments come after Blagojevich's lawyers told Judge James Zagel two weeks ago they wanted to keep a key document in the investigation under seal because they didn't want the case "tried in the media."
Prosecutors yesterday entered a series of filings in the case, including a request that defense lawyers be barred from telling jurors that the government wouldn't let Blagojevich play all the tapes at trial.
Prosecutors noted that it was up to Zagel to decide which recordings would be played in the case. Zagel has said that if Blagojevich takes the witness stand, he will more than likely play whatever recordings he chooses.
A crowd of TV, print and radio reporters are assembled here, outside of Sam Adam and Sam Adam Jr.'s office on the South Side, awaiting Rod Blagojevich.
It's a residential street and kind of an odd site for a presser, as noted by a couple of neighbors who can be heard calling friends on their cell phones to talk about the giant media trucks clogging up their street.
This is also the locale where burglars a few months ago stole some laptops used by lawyers in the case.
Blagojevich is scheduled to speak at precisely 5:03 p.m. (whether the notoriously late former governor will hit this remains to be seen) catering to TV cameras and hoping he'll be carried live -- from the South Side.
Sources say he's supposed to talk some more about having all the tapes played during his trial. The news conference comes not too long after Blagojevich's lawyers told Judge James Zagel they wanted to keep a key document in the investigation under seal because they didn't want the "case tried in the media."
Blagojevich isn't expected to talk long, nor is he expected to take any questions.
One of the attorneys just came out to tell us: "5:03 -- exactly."
"We don't believe you!" one of the camera people shouted back."
Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich will hold a news conference at 5 p.m. today at his defense lawyer's office and is expected to talk about the recordings in his case.
A news release from his PR people says Blagojevich is expected to make:"the strongest public statement to date concerning the charges he is facing."
Yesterday, prosecutors filed a petition with the judge saying that there's no need to play all the recordings at trial as the former governor has requested in the past.
It was just days ago that Blagojevich's lawyers asked that portions of a key document in his case be kept secret because of the pretrial publicity it would cause.
U.S. District Judge James Zagel released the document anyway.
From his PR people below;
What: Rod Blagojevich statement
Why: To comment on new developments in his case
When: 5:03pm Central
Outside the Law Office of Sam Adam and Sam Adam, Jr.
6133 South Ellis Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
The former governor of Illinois Rod Blagojevich will make the strongest public statement to date concerning the charges he is facing.
Blagojevich has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing and says he is innocent of all charges.
The former governor will react to developments in this case.
EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: For stations planning to carry this statement from Rod Blagojevich live, please be advised that it will begin promptly at 5:03pm CST.
Gov. Blagojevich will not be available for any interviews or comments prior to the 5:03pm Central statement.
It doesn't matter that Robert Blagojevich wasn't involved in his brother's politics until four months before the former governor's arrest, prosecutors say. He still belongs at the same trial.
In a filing today, prosecutors said "there is virtually no evidence that is not relevant to both Rod Blagojevich and Robert Blagojevich," and urged the judge in the case not to give Robert Blagojevich a separate trial.
The prosecution filed a number of requests with the judge today, including one that attempts to limit the arguments the defense can make in front of the jury.
Prosecutors asked that the defense be barred from discussing the suicide of Blagojevich's onetime fund-raiser Christopher Kelly.
"Public comments made by defendant Rod
Blagojevich and his counsel at the time of Mr. Kelly's death indicate that
defendants may attempt to insert Mr. Kelly's death or suicide into the case
through evidence or argument," prosecutors wrote.
Kelly had been charged three times by federal prosecutors and had been pressured to testify in the ex-governor's case. He died of a drug overdose in September, just days after pleading guilty to a fraud scheme involving O'Hare airport.
And, while Rod Blagojevich on his radio show may spew tales of misdeeds by other politicians, he can't do that at trial. The defense can't ask jurors to acquit the former governor because it was just "politics as usual," prosecutors argued.
"No one is on trial in this case other than the defendants, and the jury
should not be presented with evidence and counter-evidence as to whether other
individuals committed similar acts," prosecutors wrote.
They also said the former governor can't tell jurors it was a selective prosecution (they can argue that to a judge, not a jury) and can't try playing on jurors' sympathies by discussing what a conviction would do to the former governor's family.
In the Robert Blagojevich matter, prosecutors were responding to a request by Robert Blagojevich to be tried separately from the former governor.
"The conspiracy ran for approximately 84 months, the last four months of which
Robert Blagojevich was allegedly associated," Robert Blagojevich's lawyer, Michael Ettinger, wrote last week. "Robert Blagojevich's alleged involvement translates into approximately 5% of the 84-month conspiracy."
But prosecutors say that's an "over simplistic" view.
"It focuses only on the time frame of the events, as opposed to considering the actual evidence and alleged crimes in the case," they said in today's filing.
Robert Blagojevich, who lives in Nashville, Tenn., agreed to become fund-raising chair for Friends of Blagojevich, in August of 2008.
By December, his brother was arrested. He has denied wrongdoing and has said federal authorities unfairly lumped him together with his brother.
A day after the prosecution laid out its case against the former governor, his brother files a request for a separate trial, saying he doesn't want to suffer through the "spill over" effect of his brother's alleged sins.
"The publicity and media exposure regarding Rod Blagojevich will distract the jury's focus
of the case and the evidence against Robert Blagojevich," Rob Blagojevich's attorney, Michael Ettinger, said in a filing today.
A new defense filing is brief, but Robert Blagojevich says he got involved too late in the game to belong at the same trial.
"The conspiracy ran for approximately 84 months, the last four months of which
Robert Blagojevich was allegedly associated," wrote Robert Blagojevich's "Robert Blagojevich's alleged involvement translates into approximately 5% of the 84-month conspiracy."
Tony Rezko, the once prolific fund-raiser and friend of President Obama, is unlikely to be called as a witness in Rod Blagojevich's trial, sources say.
Rezko, who was a key figure in Blagojevich's administration, does not have a cooperation agreement with the government.
He was convicted in 2008, but still has one other outstanding fraudulent loan case in the federal courthouse.
Rezko had been providing information to federal prosecutors starting back in 2008. But he's not been prepped to testify in Blagojevich's trial, sources say.
Prosecutors, however, have not completely closed the door on the possibility, they say.
From today's story:
Here are some of the people likely to play a role -- or not play a role -- in Rod Blagojevich's June 3 trial, based on the 91-page evidentiary proffer filed by government prosecutors and Sun-Times interviews:
FEDERAL PROSECUTORS ARE EXPECTED TO CALL AS WITNESSES:
* Lon Monk: Blagojevich's Pepperdine Law School roommate, jogging buddy and former chief of staff. Pleaded guilty in the case.
* John Wyma: Uncharged, longtime friend who alerted feds to alleged schemes in 2008, helping to secure secret wiretaps. "Lobbyist A" in court filings.
* John Harris: Blagojevich chief of staff who pleaded guilty in the case.
* Bob Greenlee: "Deputy Gov. A" in the document. Has not been charged.
* Stuart Levine: Key witness in Rezko trial, former member of two state boards. Pleaded guilty to numerous schemes.
AS OF NOW, THE GOVERNMENT IS UNLIKELY TO CALL:
* Tony Rezko: Convicted influence peddler figures prominently in the 91-page document but not a word is attributed to him. Sources say, as of now, Rezko does not have a cooperation deal with the feds and is unlikely to be called as a prosecution witness.
* Raghu Nayak: U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.'s alleged "emissary" accused of relaying a $1.5 million offer to Blagojevich for a Jackson appointment.
Prosecutors portray Blagojevich as making a desperate grab for cash throughout the former governor's tenure as Illinois' chief executive, including by pressuring fund-raisers and aides to find work for his wife, Patti.
Click here to read more.
Something that jumped out at me in the Blagojevich proffer:
"Blagojevich questioned whether the president-elect (Obama) could do "something big" in the "private sector" for Blagojevich in exchange for the Senate seat," the proffer says.
Valerie Jarrett, now a President Obama adviser, pulled out of contention for the seat Nov. 12, 2008.
The prosecution filing doesn't say Obama did anything wrong. It does allege Blagojevich was trying to personally benefit from appointing Jarrett to Obama's then vacant seat.
U.S. District Judge James Zagel just issued an order granting "immediate access" to an evidentiary document in the case and denies the defense's request to black out portions of it.
The order responds to a petition by major news outlets to make the document public.
He has not actually put the proffer into the public domain yet though.
We are all eagerly awaiting.
Zagel says in his ruling: "The case for redaction has to be proven not presumed. It is not proven here. If the excerpt of a conversation would have a different meaning if more of the conversation were to be reproduced, the defendants here can reproduce it if either believes that the additional language would help defeat the claim of admissibility made by the prosecution."
Defense lawyers called the document misleading.
Federal prosecutors in the case of Rod Blagojevich fire back at the former governor for talking about his legal woes while a contestant on the "Celebrity Apprentice," then complaining that the government is tainting the jury pool by citing "actual evidence" in the case.
"Notwithstanding the recent airing of a national television show
in which he repeatedly proclaimed his innocence, Rod Blagojevich now argues that he would be unfairly prejudiced by the publication of the actual evidence that will be heard at his trial," prosecutors wrote in a filing this morning.
They were responding to a Monday filing by attorneys of Rob Blagojevich in which they accused the government of being "deceptively misleading" in a now-sealed key document called the Santiago Proffer that will be made public tomorrow. Rod Blagojevich's lawyers joined in the motion.
"It is manifestly unfair to make public only portions of sealed tape
recorded conversations, which are taken out of context by the Government. To be fair to the defendant, we urge this Honorable Court to keep everything sealed or, in the alternative, unseal everything," Rob Blagojevich attorney Michael Ettinger wrote in the court filing. Attorneys for the former governor filed their own motion, but it is under seal.
Prosecutors say that Rob Blagojevich's suggestion that the judge unseal everything in the case: "is both unwarranted and completely at odds with his professed desire to limit the publicity that would accompany the unsealing of the Santiago Proffer."
The proffer is a significant filing in a case, as it usually lays out the government's strategy and teases to expected key testimony at the trial. It is expected to be more than 90 pages in length and make public portions of secret FBI recordings of the former governor and his brother.
Prosecutors in Blagojevich's case filed the document out of public view to give the defense and the judge a chance to read it first and voice their objections. Prosecutors say the sooner it's made public, the less of a chance it has to taint a jury that will be picked beginning June 3.
Since 2009, Rod Blagojevich has been on an intense media tour discussing aspects of his case and has written a book: "The Governor."
U.S. District Judge James Zagel gave the defense until Monday to propose the parts they think should not be made public. Zagel said he expects to unseal the document Wednesday.
The Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune and AP intervened in the case and asked that the document be made public.
The government should release the entirety of certain FBI witness statements and tape recorded conversations to the public rather than selectively publicizing sections, defense lawyers for Rob Blagojevich said today.
A new filing in the case of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his brother, Rob, argues that the government at times is "deceptively misleading" in a now-sealed proffer that a judge ruled will become public on Wednesday.
Their complaints come as they request that certain sections of the proffer are not made public before the June 3 trial.
"Our position is that it is manifestly unfair to make public only portions of sealed tape
recorded conversations, which are taken out of context by the Government. To be fair to the defendant, we urge this Honorable Court to keep everything sealed or, in the alternative, unseal everything," Rob Blagojevich attorney Michael Ettinger wrote in the court filing. "We submit that this proffer will be summarized and quoted by the media again and again every week leading up to the trial. Parts will be quoted on television, in print, on radio and on the Internet."
The proffer, which often lays out likely testimony in the government's case, appears to be about 90 pages long, according to the filing.
Typically, prosecutors publicly file the document a couple of months before trial. We court reporters view the document -- known as the Santiago Proffer -- as among the most important in a case, as it usually lays out the government's strategy and teases to expected key testimony at the trial.
Prosecutors in Blagojevich's case filed the document under seal, or in private, to give the defense and the judge a chance to read it first and voice their objections.
U.S. District Judge James Zagel gave the defense until today to propose the parts they think should not be made public. He said he expects to unseal the document Wednesday. (The Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune and AP intervened in the case and asked that the document be made public.)
U.S. District Judge James Zagel said today he will make public a key document in the Rod Blagojevich case after major news outlets, including the Chicago Sun-Times, objected to its secret filing.
The Santiago Proffer, a prosecution filing that acts as a road map to the government's strategy in the case, will be publicly available Wednesday, Zagel ruled today.
The Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune and Associated Press stepped in and asked for the document to be made public after the government initially filed it under seal.
But there may be some portions of the filing that will not be made public.
Zagel is giving defense lawyers until Monday to suggest portions they want to keep out of public view for now.
He then said the prosecution had 24 hours to respond.
Defense lawyer Sheldon Sorosky said he didn't want the government to file a document that quotes what prosecutors consider their "best tapes." Sorosky said if the document cites portions of the secret FBI recordings, then all the tapes should be released before trial, so the jury pool isn't tainted.
"No one should assume the best tapes are in the Santiago Proffer," Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar said. "The government has other good tapes to play that aren't in the Santiago Proffer."
While there are some new details that haven't been disclosed to the public, the majority of the proffer covers material that's been made public in the past, Schar said.
Major Chicago news outlets -- including the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune and the Associated Press -- have made a bid to a federal judge to make public a key document filed under seal in the case of Rod Blagojevich.
The news outlets filed a motion in federal court this afternoon asking that a judge unseal the Santiago Proffer in the Blagojevich case. The proffer is usually a roadmap to the prosecution's case, filled with details and teases to expected testimony by key witnesses at trial.
The petition comes days after federal prosecutors filed the proffer under seal in "an abundance of caution," saying they didn't want new details in the case to be made public without the defense and the judge having a say over whether the details should be released. They also said that the process of qualifying jurors had begun and the government didn't want to taint a potential pool by making the document public.
Lawyers for the news outlets say the document should be made public.
"Tribune, AP and Sun-Times respectfully assert, on behalf of the public, that there is no valid reason to seal any part of the proffer in this case and to do so would be out of line with precedent in this courthouse and in violation of the public's First Amendment and common law right of access," the filing states.
The issue is expected to be raised tomorrow during an already scheduled court hearing in the Blagojevich case.
The onetime general counsel to then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich has refused to turn over documents subpoenaed by the federal government, saying he needs the former governor to waive attorney-client privilege, a federal court filing reveals.
Federal prosecutors want the onetime general counsel for the governor's office, William Quinlan, to turn over documents and to testify in this summer's trial, according to today's filing in federal court.
But the filing says that Quinlan, through his attorney: "refused to disclose communications that Quinlan believes could be subject to a claim of privilege by Blagojevich."
They've asked a judge in a filing todayto find that any attorney-client privileges involving Blagojevich be waived and to compel Quinlan to comply with the trial subpoenas.
Blagojevich is set to go to trial June 3.
Quinlan needs a waiver from Blagojevich in order to meet with the feds and turn over documents, the filing says. While Blagojevich has said he wouldn't assert privilege, his defense team sent Quinlan a letter adding caveats to how Quinlan should proceed with any government meeting, according to today's filing.
Prosecutors said they've treated recorded conversations with Quinlan differently than other evidence in the case. They set up a "filter team" of separate Assistant U.S. Attorneys who handled that evidence, apart from the hundreds of other secret FBI recordings in Blagojevich's case. That team turned over recordings to the defense, according to the filing, and allowed Blagojevich lawyers to determine which recordings were subject to privilege and therefore couldn't be shared with the prosecution team.
Rod Blagojevich has repeatedly urged prosecutors to "play all the tapes," in his upcoming trial.
But his codefendant brother is taking a different tactic.
His lawyer, Michael Ettinger, has asked that the secret FBI recordings in the case be thrown out, saying there was no proper probable cause for a judge to issue a warrant allowing secret FBI wiretaps.
It's not a contradiction, Ettinger said. The case against his client, Robert Blagojevich, is far more narrow than the one against the former governor. Without the recordings, there's not much of a case against Rob Blagojevich, he said.
"In my opinion, with or without the tapes my client's innocent," Ettinger said. "However, if we win this motion, he doesn't have to bear the expense of a five-month trial."
Still, it's a vast contrast in strategy from the former governor who just Monday told NBC's "Today" show that he wants all the tapes played because they will vindicate him.
But Ettinger said the recordings never should have been made. He is challenging an application to the order that allowed the FBI to set up wiretaps, which was based on cooperation from the former Blagojevich friend John Wyma.
"The application fails to set forth an explicit promise to perform an official or not perform an official act or the existence of a quid pro quo for any of the solicitations made by Robert Blagojevich or his knowledge of an explicit promise or quid pro quo," Ettinger wrote.
The Blagojevich brothers are scheduled to go to trial June 3.
In 2008, Rod Blagojevich allegedly set out to shake down a Children's Hospital after getting a phone call from onetime Cubs manager Dusty Baker.
Baker, who supported the hospital, was asking for state assistance.
"Dusty Baker called me. I'm going to do $8 million for them. I want to get (Children's CEO Patrick) Magoon for 50," Blagojevich allegedly said in a meeting with John Wyma, who back in 2008 relayed the conversation to the government.
The revelation comes in a defense court filing that quotes the government's 2008 application for warrants allowing them to secretly record Rod Blagojevich.
"According to (Wyma), as a result of his efforts and the efforts of others associated with
Children's Memorial, including Dusty Baker, Governor Rod
Blagojevich has recently committed $8 million from the state of
Illinois toward this particular issue. It is my belief that the
conversation as related by CS indicates that Governor Rod
Blagojevich expects a quid pro quo of $50,000 from Children's
Memorial in exchange for his commitment of money to
The point of the filing, which came from Robert Blagojevich's attorney, Michael Ettinger, was not to talk about Baker.
One day after the ex-governor said on the "Today" show that secret recordings in the case will vindicate him, his brother is asking that the tapes be thrown out.
In today's filing, Ettinger argues that the government didn't have the proper probable cause to record his client.
He points to numerous portions of conversations where Wyma told the government that Rob Blagojevich only wanted to talk about fund-raising -- which as fund-raising chair for Friends of Blagojevich, wasn't unusual and not probable cause to secretly record him, according to Ettinger.
Prosecutors in the case of Rod Blagojevich say they have new material in the case against the former governor they don't want to disclose just yet.
They are asking to file under seal something called a Santiago Proffer, which is often seen as a road map to the government's case at trial.
In a written petition in federal court, prosecutors ask "in an abundance of caution," to file the document under seal to give the judge and the defense a first look before it hits the news.
Today's request by prosecutors says that the process of qualifying jurors had begun and the government didn't want to taint a potential pool by making the document public.
The proffer is usually rich in detail and forecasts expected testimony by key witnesses at trial.
"There is evidence described in the government's proffer that has not previously been disclosed," prosecutors indicated in today's filing.
The proffer is usually filed close to trial. Blagojevich, who was fired from Donald Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice" just last night, is scheduled to go to trial June 3.
Rod Blagojevich was fired from his job as the state's governor.
But Illinois taxpayers will likely have to pay up to an estimated $500,000 in legal bills for Blagojevich after his $2.8 million campaign fund runs out.
The U.S. District Clerk of Court told the Chicago Sun-Times there's less than $1.4 million left in Blagojevich's campaign fund, which is being used to cover his lawyers bills.
Even though they're being paid the same rate as a public defender -- $110 an hour --
the former governor's lawyers agree the campaign fund will dry up before the trial is over.
Read more: "When Blagojevich's campaign cash runs out, who'll get stuck paying his legal tab? Us."
Rod Blagojevich's technical challenges did him in on Celebrity Apprentice. Donald Trump showered the former governor with praise -- just before he fired him.
Read our story today: Donald Trump to Blagojevich: "You're fired."