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