CHICAGO – In a move intended to force public testimony from President-elect Barack Obama's inner circle, a lawyer for Gov. Rod Blagojevich has asked the legislative panel considering impeachment of the governor to subpoena more than a dozen witnesses, including Obama's incoming chief of staff.
State Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie told The Associated Press on Thursday that the House committee received a letter from Blagojevich attorney Ed Genson asking it to subpoena Rep. Rahm Emanuel, Valerie Jarrett and more than a dozen others, including Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.
Currie, the head of the committee, said she didn't yet know what the committee's response to Genson's request would be.
However, she noted that the U.S. Attorney's office has already denied the panel's request to interview a list of people named in the criminal complaint against Blagojevich.
U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said earlier this week that lawmakers' interviews of current or former members of Blagojevich's staff might jeopardize his criminal investigation.
Currie said the House panel's next meeting is set for Monday.
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.
Members of Obama's transition team declined to comment.
Blagojevich was arrested Dec. 9 on charges alleging he tried to sell Obama's vacant Senate seat to the highest bidder. He has denied any wrongdoing and is ignoring scores of calls to step down, including one from Obama.
None of the possible candidates for Obama's Senate seat — said to include Jarrett and Jackson — are identified by name in the complaint, but Jackson has said 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 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 Obama's Senate seat, the newspaper said Thursday.
On Tuesday, Obama revealed that he, Emanuel and Jarrett had met with federal investigators 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.