Blagojevich REDACTED Obama REDACTED Subpoena
By Marcus Gilmer in News on Apr 23, 2010 2:00PM
Just when you thought the Blagojevich Trial was going to bore us to tears, you get a week like this one. Besides The Rant Heard Round Chicago, another compelling SNAFU occurred when someone didn't properly black out redacted information from the subpoena Team Blago filed in court asking President Obama to testify on Blagojevich's behalf. Instead, someone cracked the code on the motion's PDF version and was able to read portions that had been blacked out. President Obama isn't accused of any wrong-doing in the filing, but those portions suggest that President Obama had more of a hand in selecting the replacement for his vacated Senate seat than he claimed and that he had more dealings with the tainted Tony Rezko than he originally let on. Blago's lawyers say that Obama's testimony would corroborate defense claims that contradict the feds' case: “There are two conflicting stories, and the defense has the right to admit evidence that contradicts the government’s claims. Only President Obama can do this.”
Among other things, the document claims Obama pushed hard for "Senate Candidate B," identified as Valerie Jarrett, to be appointed to the office.
Labor union official told the FBI and the United States Attorneys “Obama expressed his belief that [Senate Candidate B] would be a good Senator for the people of Illinois and would be a candidate who could win re-election. [Labor union official] advised Obama that [labor union official] would reach out to Governor Blagojevich and advocate for [Senate Candidate B].. . . [Labor union official] called [labor union president] and told [labor union president] that Obama was aware that [labor union official] would be reaching out to Blagojevich.”
Perhaps more eyebrow raising are the implications that Obama had more dealings with Tony Rezko than previously believed.
Across pages 5 and 6 of the motion, the defense teases the conversation between Rezko and "a public official who is not Rod Blagojevich" over casino licensing and then later lied about it even though no wrong-doing took place in the conversation.
However, the defense has a good faith belief that Mr. Rezko, President Obama’s former friend, fund-raiser, and neighbor told the FBI and the United States Attorneys a different story about President Obama. In a recent in camera proceeding, the government tendered a three paragraph letter indicating that Rezko “has stated in interviews with the government that he engaged in election law violations by personally contributing a large sum of cash to the campaign of a public official who is not Rod Blagojevich. Further, the public official denies being aware of cash contributions to his campaign by Rezko or others and denies having conversations with Rezko related to cash contributions. Rezko has also stated in interviews with the government that he believed he transmitted a quid pro quo offer from a lobbyist to the public official, whereby the lobbyist would hold a fundraiser for the official in exchange for favorable official action, but that the public official rejected the offer. The public official denies any such conversation. In addition, Rezko has stated to the government that he and the public official had certain conversations about gaming legislation and administration, which the public official denies having had.”(10)
President Obama is the only one who can testify as to the veracity of Mr. Rezko’s allegations above.
That (10)? It's a redacted footnote that reads: "The defense has a good faith belief that this public official is Barack Obama" and then cites a Sun-Times story about the 1999 casino legislation which Obama, then a state senator, voted against. Still, after all of this, it's still highly unlikely Obama will make an appearance in court.
To be fair, none of the information is exactly shocking, but it certainly adds to the drama surrounding the approaching trial, perhaps exactly what Blagojevich wanted. And given that Team Blago has been battling the feds tooth-and-nail over releasing evidence - their all-or-nothing argument regarding the Blago Tapes - we wouldn't be that surprised if this "oops!" was actually on purpose. We're playing a bit of a conspiracy theorist here, we know, but given the PR fight Team Blago has been waging and the grandiose gestures and actions the man and his team have made, it's not out of the question that they'd do anything to make that Circus Tent even bigger by June 3. What better way to try to force someone's hand than to - "Oops, sorry!" - accidentally leak information that may compel them to at least address the issue? Either way, it's only stoked the fire for what's sure to be a spectacle come this summer.