Obama Report Could Help Blago

(CBS)
The internal report released last week clearing Barack Obama and his aides of inappropriate contact with Rod Blagojevich's office could help the embattled Illinois governor avoid impeachment.

Ed Genson, Blagojevich's lead attorney, told the Chicago Sun-Times that he plans to submit the report to the Illinois House committee considering impeachment of the governor.

Blagojevich is accused of trying to effectively sell Obama's Senate seat in exchange for campaign contributions or a lucrative job.

White House attorney Greg Craig found "there was nothing inappropriate that took place here, either in terms of conversations or communications or contacts, between transition officials and the governor's office."

Committee chair Barbara Flynn Currie suggested the Obama report would not clear the governor even if it shows he did not interact inappropriately with the president elect or his aides.

"Maybe in this particular instance someone didn't run a stop sign, but it doesn't say they didn't run a different stop sign," she said, according to the Associated Press.

The committee meets today at noon eastern time. Genson has been offered the chance to present evidence in Blagojevich's defense at the meeting.*

Though Genson urged the panel to subpoena Obama aides last week, Currie said Sunday that she would not do so, since it could jeopardize the criminal investigation.

As CNN reports, soon-to-be White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel would have been one of those receiving a subpoena. But because U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said such testimony could hamper his investigation, Emanuel, Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett and others will not be called to appear before the panel.

*UPDATE: The AP reports that Genson said at the meeting that while Blagojevich may have been recorded making some "unfortunate" remarks, impeachment would not be a justifiable action.

The governor's comments, as detailed in the U.S. attorney's affidavit, were "unfortunate talk, talk that shouldn't have been made perhaps," Genson said. But Blagojevich did not take any actions that would necessitate impeachment, he argued.

The attorney also said that Blagojevich "wasn't given enough time to prepare, wasn't allowed to call witnesses and didn't get to cross-examine people who testified," as the AP summarized it.

Genson added that the impeachment committee hearings weren't fair to the governor and said that the burden of proof for impeachment had not been made clear.

UPDATE 2: Fitzgerald today filed paperwork to release to the impeachment panel recordings of the wiretapped conversations detailed in the affidavit. If a judge agrees, a limited number of the conversations will be released to the panel in a redacted form.

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