Reporting with Lark Turner
Rod Blagojevich's lawyers are making another run at the FBI report of President Obama's Dec. 2008 interview with federal agents in the ex-governor's investigation.
This time, though, they argue that they want to know if Obama knew that Blagojevich was allegedly trying to shake him down. And if he did know, what did he do about it.
They think it's relevant to determine whether Obama believed what Blagjoevich was doing was criminal.
"The instant request seeks different information as to whether or not President Obama ever reported or caused to be reported any of the alleged 'asks' that the government alleges were part of a 'shakedown' of the President," defense lawyers wrote in a court filing.
Union leader Tom Balanoff testified that Obama called him the day before the Nov. 4, 2008 presidential election to give him the green light in discussing Valerie Jarrett's candidacy for the Senate seat with Blagojevich. Blagojevich later asked Balanoff to send word that he wanted a cabinet appointment and subsequently, asked for a foundation to be set up in exchange for Jarrett's appointment.
Balanoff said he told Jarrett about the cabinet appointment request.
"It is essential for the defense to know whether President Obama, subsequent to the alleged 'ask,' reported it to anyone and that he believed this 'ask' to be illegal or improper. The fact that at the time the President-elect was preparing to become the Chief Executive and an arm of the Department of Justice makes Obama's reporting (or lack of reporting) of the alleged 'ask' highly relevant. President-elect Obama presumably had a duty to report it if he believed it to be criminal."
After Blagojevich's Dec. 9, 2008 arrest, federal agents interviewed Jarrett, Rahm Emanuel and Obama, who at the time was President-elect. While prosecutors have turned over to defense lawyers FBI reports of both Emanuel and Jarrett, they haven't given the defense Obama's FBI report. Judge James Zagel, who said he has read the report, has blocked the defense from access.