Fitzgerald asks to release recordings

Impeachment hearings continue
December 29, 2008 8:40:35 PM PST
Federal investigators took action on Monday to have taped conversations of Gov. Blagojevich played for Illinois lawmakers. The governor's attorney says he does not believe the tapes contain evidence to impeach the governor.

ABC7 has learned that there are more federal recordings of the governor's conversations than previously reported.

There is no question that what happens in Springfield will impact the criminal case. That's why the U.S. attorney is asking the court to release tapes of those four calls to the impeachment committee.

And, as part of that request, ABC7 learned on Monday investigators tapped the cell phone of one of the governor's inner circle, identified as Lobbyist one.

U.S. Attorney Pat Fitzgerald read some of the conversations federal agents intercepted of Gov. Blagojevich. But now the public may soon hear more from the governor's own voice. And his attorney is concerned those words may be used to help impeach him.

"It's just talk. That's what it is. Unfortunate talk that perhaps shouldn't have been made, but it's just talk - not action," said Ed Genson, Blagojevich's attorney.

The House select committee on impeachment is in uncharted territory and has been waiting to learn if the feds would share any information about their investigation.

"My guess is they're trying to help and whether he wants help is a different question. He's trying to focus them on probably two or three instances of impropriety," said Harold Krent, dean, Chicago Kent Law School.

In court on Monday, U.S. Attorney Pat Fitzgerald 's office wrote, "the United states takes no position on whether or not the committee should recommend impeachment. It'd be appropriate to seek the disclosure of four intercepted calls in redacted form. And the disclosure of the calls by themselves would not interfere with the ongoing criminal investigation."

The calls involve the governor's alleged pay-to-play plot to send casino revenue to the state's horse racing industry, not the alleged plot to sell the U.S. Senate seat.

But the House committee could then make the tapes public as early as next week which some committee members believe will further erode any support the governor still has.

"The fact is that it's a crime in the state of Illinois to offer to do a public act for value. Whether somebody takes you up on that offer is irrelevant," said State Rep. Lou Lang, D Skokie.

In the meantime, it became clear on Monday the federal investigation has been underway for some time as the Blagojevich administration agreed, after resisting for more than two years, to turn over federal grand jury subpoenas to the Better Government Association.

"Jobs, appointments, contracts, Senate seat, you name it, it appears the feds think something bad happened and they're looking at it," said Jay Stewart of the Better Government Association.

A judge will decide next Monday whether he will allow those taped phone calls to be released.

The governor's attorney says he may challenge the legality of those wiretaps. But he says if the tapes are legal, he welcomes the committee to hear them.


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