Politics

Blago atty wants to question Obama advisors

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

An attorney for Governor Rod Blagojevich wants to question two of President elect-Barack Obama's top advisors in Springfield next week.

Lawyer Ed Genson is asking the House impeachment committee to subpoena Rahm Emanuel and Valerie Jarrett to testify at next Monday's hearing.

The governor's colorful attorney, Eddie Genson, apparently believes that a subpoena from the Illinois House impeachment committee would make a perfect Christmas present for Obama insiders Rahm Emanuel and Valerie Jarrett.

Genson's point is: if no one on the Obama team did anything wrong in their dealings with the governor's office, then Rod Blagojevich didn't do anything wrong either, so he shouldn't be impeached and the committee should hear the exonerating evidence in person from Obama's top advisors and from Congressman Jesse Jackson Junior, who claims that he never authorized pay-to-play conversations on his behalf.

"There's no inappropriate contact by any member of the Obama staff or the transition team with Blagojevich," said President-Elect Joe Biden Tuesday.

The internal investigation, released by the Obama transition team Tuesday, claims that no one on the Obama team -- from the president-elect on down -- talked to Governor Blagojevich about deals or quid pro quos to influence Blagojevich's choice of a new U.S. senator to replace Obama. And, because of that, Genson is asking the House impeachment committee to subpoena Obama insiders Rahm Emanuel, who had several conversations with Blagojevich and his chief of staff about filling the Senate seat, Valerie Jarrett, who was Obama's first choice for the seat initially, and Congressman Jackson, who denied any knowledge of pay-to-play conversations on his behalf.

"Basically, from what I've read and what I've heard and witnesses that I've interviewed, nobody did anything," said Genson.

Committee chairman Barbara Flynn Currie has "taken the request under advisement." But U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald is likely to object to protect the confidentiality of the criminal case against the governor.

Meanwhile, the Illinois Republican Party is posting a countdown clock on its website to mark the time that's gone by since the governor's arrest with no game plan for filling Obama's Senate seat. Republicans are counting on the corruption scandal surrounding a Democratic governor to make them more competitive politically than they've been since the same thing happened to the last GOP governor, George Ryan.

"I really think when you get arrogance and leadership and when you get corrupt, which has happened, voters want a change, and we're certainly speaking to them about that," said Andy McKenna, Illinois Republican chairman.

As for the subpoena request, we're still waiting for a comment from the Obama transition team, but a spokesman for Jesse Jackson Junior says the congressman would rather not testify in the middle of an ongoing federal corruption investigation.

By the way, Patrick Fitzgerald's prosecution office is closed for Christmas, without telling the impeachment committee whether he plans to provide them with audio tapes of the governor's profanity-laced rants about the Senate seat captured on those FBI wiretaps.

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