Rod Blagojevich today filed a motion in federal court to call President Barack Obama as a witness in the impeached governor's corruption case. The trial is due to begin on June 3.
Former Gov. Blagojevich's defense team issued a trial subpoena for the president to take the stand as a corroborating witness. The request is not unexpected, but the odds are unlikely the president will take the stand.
President Obama has already been interviewed by the FBI in connection with the Blagojevich conspiracy investigation. The ex-governor's lawyers asked last year for FBI records of the interview but claim they haven't received any.
"As of today's date, the defense has not received any notes, transcripts, or reports from President Obama's interview with the government," defense lawyers stated in the Thursday filing.
"President Obama has direct knowledge to allegations made in the indictment. In addition, President Obama's public statements contradict other witness statements, specifically those made by labor union official and Senate Candidate B (Valerie Jarrett). It is anticipated that labor union official will be a witness for the government. His accounts of events directly related to the charges in the indictment are contradicted by President Obama's public statement," defense lawyers wrote.
While President Obama has not been implicated in any of Blagojevich's allegedly corrupt acts, it was Obama's U.S. Senate seat that the former governor is accused of trying to auction to the highest bidder.
"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," defense lawyers wrote.
There has been no immediate response from the White House.
It would be unusual-but not precedent setting-for a sitting president to offer testimony in a criminal case. However, the physical presence of Mr. Obama in a Dirksen Federal Building courtroom is not expected. Even if Judge James Zagel were to allow Mr. Obama's testimony, it would most likely come in the form of a videotaped appearance. Even that possibility faces numerous legal hurdles.
Attorneys for Rod Blagojevich today also filed a letter written in 2008 to Judge Zagel by convicted political fundraiser Tony Rezko. The letter was an attempt to convince Judge Zagel to allow Rezko to be released on bond.
In the letter Rezko says, "Your Honor, the prosecutors have been overzealous in pursuing a crime that never happened. They are pressuring me to tell them the "wrong" things that I supposedly know about Governor Blagojevich and Senator Obama. I have never been party to any wrongdoing that involved the Governor or the Senator. I will never fabricate lies about anyone else for selfish purposes. I will take what comes my way, but I will never hurt innocent people. I am not Levine, Loren, Mahru, or Winter. I am simply an honest, humble immigrant who believes in the American dream."