June 3rd, 2010
08:19 AM ET
5 years ago

Source: Administration officials subpoenaed in Blagojevich trial

Rahm Emanuel and Valerie Jarrett have been subpoenaed as witnesses in the federal corruption trial of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Rahm Emanuel and Valerie Jarrett have been subpoenaed as witnesses in the federal corruption trial of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Chicago, Illinois (CNN) – Two senior members of President Barack Obama's administration have been subpoenaed as witnesses in the federal corruption trial of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, which begins Thursday in a federal courtroom in Chicago, Illinois.

Blagojevich is charged with racketeering and fraud, among other charges.

A senior administration official confirmed that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett have been subpoenaed.

Blagojevich, a two-term Democrat, was impeached and removed from office in January 2009 amid accusations that he had attempted to sell the U.S. Senate seat that had been occupied by Obama before he became president.

The ousted governor is accused of telling his former chief of staff, John Harris, that he wanted "a good gig" in exchange for an appointment to Obama's seat, either in Washington or with a lucrative private foundation.

Blagojevich was arrested in December 2008 on federal corruption charges.

Authorities have said that Blagojevich and his inner circle engaged in a near-constant conspiracy of extortion and kickbacks after his 2002 election.

He has denied any suggestion of wrongdoing.

"I will fight, I will fight, and I will fight until I take my last breath," he said after his arrest.

The accusations against Blagojevich include offering to divert state contracts to individuals and firms that made campaign contributions and
appointing contributors or their associates to key state positions.

Fundraisers "understood that Blagojevich viewed those appointments as an opportunity to reward big fundraisers or Blagojevich's supporters," prosecutors wrote. "Blagojevich consistently wanted to know who recommended a particular candidate for a board or commission slot."

The accusations also contend that tens of thousands of dollars in unearned commissions and unnecessary retainer fees were diverted to Blagojevich's wife after he and his co-conspirators learned that they were being investigated.

In April, Blagojevich held a defiant news conference in which he called his accusers "liars" and "cowards" and directly challenged U.S. Attorney
Patrick Fitzgerald, who is heading the prosecution.

He repeated that he was innocent and that tapes that FBI agents made of his phone conversations would prove it.

Also in April, Blagojevich's lawyers filed a motion seeking to subpoena Obama to testify in the case.

According to the 10-page motion, Obama's public assertion that he had no involvement in talks about filling his Senate seat contradicts information from another witness in the case.

"The defense understands that the President of the United States of America is not a routine witness and would not request his appearance if it did not think he was critical to the liberty of Rod Blagojevich," the motion said.

In the year and a half since his arrest, Blagojevich got his own radio talk show, wrote a book, and was a contestant on NBC'S "Celebrity Apprentice."

That stint ended when host Donald Trump told him, "You're fired!"

– CNN's Ted Rowlands contributed to this report.


Filed under: Rahm Emanuel • Rod Blagojevich • Valerie Jarrett
soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. Chad from Tampa

    What an embarrassment Obama has become.

    June 3, 2010 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  2. The reality is...

    This guy actually may be the only one telling the truth! who knows when it comes to Chicago "politics".

    June 3, 2010 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  3. demmie

    interesting. So Blago thought the administration was open to "play ball" – then we find that the admin. DOES "play ball" as evidenced in Pennsylvania and Colorado – seems Blago's case just got better :)

    June 3, 2010 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  4. curious steve, boston, ma

    it's been long time coming. sunlight is the best antidote to parasites like rahm and valerie.

    June 3, 2010 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  5. t22

    It's all falling apart for the WH now, if Obama is smart he'll dump Emmanuel and get an adult in place running his White House. Between the sleazy behind the scenes dealings on Burris and Sestak to the bungling of the oil spill to his disastrous legislative agenda, the President is sinking like a rock.

    June 3, 2010 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  6. Mark from Louisiana

    You left out the part about obozo and his lawyer having meetings with the FBI agents investigating all the corruption concerning blago.

    June 3, 2010 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  7. Capt. Snarky

    It'll be VERY interesting to see how close to the President this gets...........

    June 3, 2010 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  8. Sun52shine

    Sinking ships always tries to carry the other ships with it. Question, why would the President care who replaced him in the Senate? Mr. ExGovernor you are in that position because you are greed.

    June 3, 2010 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  9. Hows that oil slick coming along Rush?

    A gig in an orange jumpsuit along side Dick Cheney and and his pals is where this clown should be.

    June 3, 2010 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  10. Naqib

    Those old bones in the closet just will not shut up... eh

    But hey... buying seats is just daily work with Obama and his crew

    Can't wait to har Rezko testify

    June 3, 2010 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
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