Sealed info in Blago trial made public

Ousted Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich arrives at his home after pleading not guilty in federal court in Chicago, Tuesday, April 14, 2009. (Paul Beaty)

July 21, 2010 8:53:36 AM PDT
A new controversy unfolded in Rod Blagojevich's corruption trial as a computer glitch allowed some sealed information in court papers to become public Thursday.

The court documents contained numerous blacked out portions. But several media outlets, including ABC7, discovered it was possible to unseal that information, which first appeared on an online blog that tracks TV and newsmakers.

The heart of Blagojevich's claims are that then President-elect Obama was more involved in trying to influence the appointment to his former Senate seat than he said publicly.

"Our office had no involvement around the senate seat and that would be a violation of everything that this campaign has been about. And that's not how we do business," said President-elect Barack Obama on December 11, 2008.

Blagojevich claims in the filing that a labor union president told the FBI that he spoke to a labor union official on November 3, 2008 who received a phone message from Obama that evening. The filing goes on to say Obama expressed his belief that Senate Candidate B would be a good senator for the people of Illinois and would be a good candidate who could win re-election. The attorneys claim that labor union official would relay that information to the governor. A month later the filing says President-elect Obama also spoke to Governor Blagojevich on December 1, 2008.

Federal prosecutors working on the Blagojevich case left the Dirksen Federal Building about 6:30 p.m. Thursday after an unusual evening meeting with the judge in the case. Neither prosecutors nor attorneys for the former governor, who were also in the meeting, disclosed what it was about.

The meeting came just hours after Blagojevich's attorneys filed a motion asking for President Obama's testimony in the trial. Portions of that filing were blacked out and were supposed to be under seal but the glitch allowed the redacted portions to be read and published in numerous media outlets.

Defense attorneys want President Obama to testify about the contents of that conversation. But legal experts say it is a long shot that would happen.

"They're about five million to one. There's no way he'll be testifying in person at this trial," said Prof. Harold Krent, Kent College of Law dean.

Only four sitting presidents have ever testified in a criminal matter previously including Presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan and Clinton. All of their testimony was video-taped. And if President Obama is compelled to testify it would also likely be on tape.


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