Chicago Sun-Times
Inside the Rod Blagojevich investigation and related cases


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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."

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This page contains a single entry by Natasha Korecki published on April 22, 2010 1:53 PM.


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