Reporting with Lynn Sweet
President Obama's chief of staff Rahm Emanuel was subpoenaed by the defense to testify in Rod Blagojevich's upcoming trial, a Blagojevich attorney told the Chicago Sun-Times.
"Yes, he's been subpoenaed by the defense," one of Rod Blagojevich's lawyers, Shelly Sorosky said today.
Valerie Jarrett was also subpoenaed, according to the White House, which also confirmed Emanuel's subpoena after the Sun-Times reported the news.
Rod Blagojevich's trial begins tomorrow.
Sorosky described Emanuel as a "critical" witness because: "he's the supposed victim of an extortion." One of the charges against Blagojevich accuses him of attempting to extort Emanuel while he was a congressman.
Sorosky said there are two areas of interest involving Emanuel: the alleged attempted extortion of Emanuel by then-Gov. Blagojevich and the U.S. senate seat selection concerning now-White House adviser Valerie Jarrett.
Jarrett was initially interested in the Senate seat post after Obama was elected president in 2008 and Emanuel had some discussions with both Blagojevich and his staff about the open seat.
Blagojevich had the sole power to appoint a replacement to Obama's vacant seat. He's charged with trying to extract a personal benefit from his potential nominees in exchange for an appointment.
The defense in Blagojevich's case has already subpoenaed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. -- all are Democrats.
Sorosky acknowledged that Emanuel, and many others who have been subject of subpoenas, might not actually be called to testify.
"We served a lot of these people just in case they were needed," Sorosky said.
"We don't know if we're going to call them or not. It depends on what happens at trial."
Contributing: Sarah Ostman