Blago Lawyer: Subpoena Obama Staff

In this Dec. 22, 2003 file photo, Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., right, answers a question as Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, listens during a news conference in Chicago. Blagojevich is legendary in Illinois political circles for not picking up or returning phone calls, even from important figures like senior senator, Dick Durbin. But there was always one call Blagojevich regularly took, say his aides, and that was from Emanuel. AP Photo/Stephen J. Carrera, File

In a move intended to force public testimony from President-elect Barack Obama's inner circle, an attorney for Gov. Rod Blagojevich has asked the Illinois House committee considering whether to impeach the governor to subpoena more than a dozen witnesses, including Mr. Obama's incoming chief of staff and a senior adviser.

State Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, the committee's head, told The Associated Press Thursday that the panel received a letter from Blagojevich attorney Ed Genson asking members to subpoena Rep. Rahm Emanuel, Valerie Jarrett and more than a dozen others, including Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.

Currie said she didn't yet know what the committee's response to Genson's request would be. But she noted that legislators had already sought permission to interview people mentioned in the criminal complaint against Blagojevich, and the U.S. Attorney's office said no.

In a letter released earlier this week, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald asked the impeachment committee not to delve into the criminal charges against Blagojevich, saying interviewing current or former members of Blagojevich's staff might jeopardize his criminal investigation.

It was not immediately clear Thursday how the request would apply to members of Mr. Obama's incoming administration.

U.S. Attorney's office spokesman Randall Samborn declined to comment Thursday.

Messages left Thursday for Genson, Jackson and attorneys for Jarrett and Emanuel were not immediately returned Thursday. The Obama transition team declined to comment.

Blagojevich was arrested Dec. 9 on charges that he tried to sell Mr. Obama's vacant Senate seat to the highest bidder. He has denied any wrongdoing and is ignoring scores of calls to step down, including Mr. Obama's.

None of the possible candidates for Mr. Obama's Senate seat — said to include Jarrett and Jackson — are identified by name in the complaint, but Jackson has come forward to say that he is the individual dubbed "Senate Candidate 5."

The congressman has said federal prosecutors told him he is not a target of their investigation.

Genson told the Chicago Sun-Times for a story published Thursday that testimony from Emanuel, Jarrett and Jackson would help prove the governor's claim that he didn't do anything wrong in his handling of Mr. Obama's Senate seat.

On Tuesday, Mr. Obama revealed that he, Emanuel and Jarrett met with federal investigators last week about Blagojevich. He also released an internal review that found no inappropriate contact with the governor's office by him or his staff.

Emanuel was the only Obama transition team member who discussed the Senate appointment with Blagojevich, and those conversations were "totally appropriate and acceptable," according to incoming White House attorney Greg Craig.

Currie said the House panel is next set to meet Monday but that telephone conversations among members were likely to occur in the meantime.
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