Blago won’t get subpoenas for Emanuel, Jarrett, Jackson

posted at 8:58 am on December 29, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

The Illinois House will not subpoena Rahm Emanuel and Valerie Jarrett to force them to testify at the impeachment hearings after Patrick Fitzgerald told them it might compromise his investigation.  Although that appears to be a defeat for Rod Blagojevich and his attorney, it actually works in Ed Genson’s favor in a key way:

Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s attorney will not get to call key aides of President-elect Barack Obama to testify at impeachment hearings after U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald told an Illinois House panel doing so would “significantly compromise” his ongoing criminal investigation of the governor.

The chairman of the House impeachment committee, state Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago), will respect Fitzgerald’s request and not issue the subpoenas for incoming White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and close Obama friend and adviser Valerie Jarrett, panel spokesman Steve Brown said Saturday. Ed Genson, Blagojevich’s attorney, sought their testimony before the impeachment panel.

Brown said Currie, who holds the power to subpoena witnesses before the 21-member panel deciding whether to impeach Blagojevich, also will not call two other witnesses Genson sought: Democratic U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., whose emissaries allegedly offered to raise cash for the governor in exchange for the seat, according to federal prosecutors, and Nils Larsen, a Tribune Co. executive vice president who helped engineer Sam Zell’s purchase of the company.

Genson requested the testimony of the two Obama advisers after the president-elect’s transition team issued an internal report Tuesday that noted Emanuel had one or two telephone calls with Blagojevich and about four calls with Blagojevich’s then chief of staff, John Harris, about filling Obama’s vacant U.S. Senate seat. The report said Emanuel recommended Jarrett to Blagojevich for the seat.

On the surface, this is a loss for Genson.  He could have used the impeachment hearings to attempt to derail any criminal prosecution of Blagojevich by either forcing witnesses to issue contradictory statements or implicate themselves.  The nature of political panels would have allowed a much wider range of cross-examination options for Genson than a criminal court; Fitzgerald understands that and acted to keep Genson from doing some real damage.

However, Genson knew when he demanded the subpoenas that he would have little chance of the House approving them.  At best, it was a long shot, but it served another purpose for Genson.  He needs to stop the House from taking any action by slowing them down politically.  If Blagojevich cannot adequately defend himself in an impeachment proceeding by not calling witnesses who might exonerate him, Genson hopes to invoke some public sympathy for Blagojevich and create political pressure to stop impeachment until Blagojevich can have his day in court.

That could take years, of course, or possibly forever.  Genson has to hope that Fitzgerald comes short of proving any overt pay-for-play scheme and show little but normal political wrangling for influence.  That’s a big bluff, and the wiretaps may show exactly that if they support the allegations in the complaint Fitzgerald filed.  Still, Genson has nothing to lose by trying to complicate matters as much as possible now, and gained an opening for some PR tapdancing with this decision now.

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Uh Oh for Blago!

sonnyspats1 on December 29, 2008 at 9:07 AM

that was inevitable, there is no way the Democrats want an open airing of all the transaction and behind the scenes crimes that all of these guys are involved with, it would leave them open to RICO charges and possibly even link back to Obama, Durbin, all of them. That is Blago’s ace in the hole and he knows it. He will threaten to burn them all down if he goes down in the hope he gets leniency.

rob verdi on December 29, 2008 at 9:10 AM

I can envision sympathy bolstering his approval rating up to 6%.


artist on December 29, 2008 at 9:19 AM

This still does not exonerate Blagojevich from his shaking down the hospital construction deal and other state sponsored business dealings. The impeachment proceedings may have plenty of “ammo” on his in-state dealings without any need to include Obama’s senate seat.

Genson’s still got his plate full.

Rovin on December 29, 2008 at 9:30 AM

Well duh!So Hamas is in Gaza and the Hezbos are in Lebanon. Nevermind!

sonnyspats1 on December 29, 2008 at 9:36 AM

What a shocka’.Of course he wasn’t going to get any subpoenas for Baracks people for about a thousand reasons.Number one being the last thing anyone wants is to have to have Obama’s people testify under oath in a public forum.

Obama rode out the storm.He dumped his paper two days before Christmas and fled to Hawaii and Emanuel went into hiding.No one knows where Jarret is either.
The media is showing that they will be the good little lap dogs and follow orders not to waste their question or investigate something Obama has declared off limits.

Don’t forget that people like Chris Matthews has said he will do whatever it takes to make this administration work and he has plenty of company.The media dances like puppets for Obama.

NeoKong on December 29, 2008 at 9:37 AM

ha ha whoops wrong thread. Nevermind! heh heh well you know what I mean.

sonnyspats1 on December 29, 2008 at 9:38 AM

Does anyone know what happens if fitz gets fired??? I would assume the case would stay open but that an obama/holder appointee could develop a sudden streak of incompetence in handling it.

bullseye on December 29, 2008 at 9:39 AM

The justice department, MSM and so many others are working feverishly to coat “The One” with teflon prior to his coronation.

wepeople on December 29, 2008 at 10:13 AM

I don’t think this is over just yet. I find it interesting that Blogo’s attorney cannot issue a subpoena without getting an approval from the legislature. If this were a simple lawsuit, Blogo would have the right to subpoena all of these people as a witness to a deposition. There must be some due process issue here that requires Blogo some ability to call witnesses who may have exculpatory evidence. While an impeachment is a political mechanism, I would assume that it still requires some level of due process, which allows someone facing impeachment with the ability to present exculpatory evidence.

Is there anyone who could spread some light on the due process issue?

RedSoxNation on December 29, 2008 at 10:15 AM

I meant shed some light…

RedSoxNation on December 29, 2008 at 10:16 AM

Why bother with all this speculative nonsense. We already know what will happen.

Blago will walk away with a wrist-slap and a big job somewhere.

He has dirt on the Fool.

Thus it is pre-determined.

The Fool, of course, will be cast as a magnanimous Soloman.

notagool on December 29, 2008 at 10:49 AM

I can envision sympathy bolstering his approval rating up to 6%.


artist on December 29, 2008 at 9:19 AM

Oooh, all the way up to Congressional levels. I’m sure Blago is guilty, I just want to see who else is guilty or at least dirty.

rbj on December 29, 2008 at 10:51 AM

Genson hopes to invoke some public sympathy for Blagojevich and create political pressure to stop impeachment until Blagojevich can have his day in court.

I don’t think he will be able to get much public sympathy but If Blagojeich can’t be impeached and stays in office unable to appoint someone to Obama’s seat, it will remain unfilled with no democrat vote on critical issues in the Senate. This can’t make Harry Reid happy. Also, a drawn out impeachment process could promote the special election solution that will give Republicans a possibility to steal a democrat seat.

Dollayo on December 29, 2008 at 12:21 PM

The Illinois House will not subpoena Rahm Emanuel and Valerie Jarrett

So much for due process. They need to drop impeachment procedings until he is allowed a fair and equal defense. Don’t get me wrong, I think he is guilty as sin, but so are the rest of barry’s advisors and possibly the messiah himself. If the illinois senate wants to protect those scoundrels they need to back off blago. If they want to get blago they need to allow him to defend himself.

peacenprosperity on December 29, 2008 at 12:28 PM

Look, Blago is going to be impeached by the House. The issue will be the trial in the Senate and they will not be able to have the same latitude in simply dismissing requests for testimony. He’ll be impeached but he will either stay in office and drag this out until his term is over or he will be impeached and the Senate will be forced to call Obama’s team to the stand. I don’t see the Democrats doing this so it will wind up being in Fitz’s court.

I’ve been saying Blago would be in office when The Black Caesar ascends to the throne but Emanuel would not. I may be wrong there. They may both still be government workers on the 20th.

grdred944 on December 29, 2008 at 12:38 PM

Is there anyone who could spread some light on the due process issue?

This is Illinois. There is no Due Process other than bribery


The fix is in place.

The Democrat Mafia has warned Blago to keep his mouth shut or else.

pocomoco on December 29, 2008 at 3:36 PM

Due Process? Not to be cute, but in a general constitutional sense it is that process which is due under the circumstances. Due process in the context of the revocation of a library card certainly does not equal due process in the context of a criminal case — nor, in the context of an impeachment.

The fundamental procedural aspect of any legal process, whether you are talking about a process of criminal prosecution, or some form of summary civil proceeding, is that, where the harshness of the potential loss to the person is measurable, a meaningful pre-termination factual determination has to be made, with a meaningful opportunity to be heard, and from which a meaningful conclusory judgment can be reached.

“Meaningful” in the constitutional sense is not an empty word.

Clearly, the impeachment and subsequent removal of a Governor on conviction by the Illinois Senate, are processes from which Blago would be “condemned to suffer grievous loss” in a constitutional sense — and that, regardless of how much we might otherwise believe he deserves it.

So, much as many in Illinois appear intent on being quickly rid of Blago, due process — a meaningful hearing and meaningful right to be heard, stand as significant impediments, regardless of how devoutly to be wished the removal may be.

If I were the attorney for Blago, I’d also be thrilled over the report of the President-elect’s attorney, fully exonerating all of the members of his staff, Rahm Emanuel, Valerie Jarrett, et al. Bear in mind that the report not only addressed their lack of involvement, but also suggested that none of them understood anything that was said to them gave rise to a need to make any report to authorities. That clearly tends to exonerate Blago as well. “Gee, no one on the President-elect’s staff thought I did anything wrong,” Blago might very well say in consequence.

The incoming President obviously did not want his staff, especially his Chief of Staff, to be seen as officious back-biters — potential sniches who would “call the cops” the moment they heard anything from anyone sounding perhaps a little off color. But Blago can rely on that report to his advantage.

So, in a general sense, then, the obvious “due process” question is, how could due process possibly be served in an impeachment and removal process for the duly elected Governor of a State, if the unmistakably best evidence in that pending process is unavailable to the accused, as is the ability to compel the testimony of key witnesses mentioned in the context of the arrest which, of necessity, was the basis of that impeachment charge in the first place?

We let criminals go free under circumstances where evidence has been improperly obtained, or is otherwise made unavailable on one or another public policy grounds. And we frequently do so because our courts have concluded that justice is preserved by protecting rights, even where the price is the failure to convict an obviously guilty party — even dangerous ones.

The impeachment panel may well be setting Blago up for a potential legal victory by denying him access to evidence and witnesses, and trying to fob it off on Fitz’s case.

Lisa Madigan already screwed things up with her still-born removal petition, by too quickly narrowing the options for his removal. In a sense, the Court’s silence in response was deafening — also working to Blago’s advantage.

Looks to me like all eyes are still on Fitz to save them from a process — impeachment — that they definitely do not want to pursue. But in showing their hand the way they are, they may be weakening his ability to negotiate a resignation. Successful negotiation, after all, is almost always achieved from a position of strength.

Trochilus on December 29, 2008 at 8:36 PM

Looks like Fitz is trying to respond to the obvious but in a very limited manner — with only some of the tapes, and that are redacted.

I wonder if the judge will require a full in camera review in order to give all parties, including Blago’s counsel, an opportunity to make arguments seeking a broader (or narrower) release of the taped conversations to the committee after hearing what is on them? A limited release will create the perception that something is being hidden for less than legitimate reasons.

The public interest is best served with a full release of the tapes, and the Republicans should certainly be clamoring for that.

They should also be clamoring to having Obama’s Senate seat put on the ballot, along with Emanuel’s House seat.

The Democratic congressman delivered the news in automated telephone calls to constituents. He is leaving office to become President-elect Barack Obama’s new chief of staff. He said he will resign his congressional seat Friday.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich will play a role in replacing Emanuel; state law provides that the governor schedule a special election to take place within 115 days to fill the vacancy.

Why should only the heavily Democrat constituents in Emanuel’s district elect his replacement for a congressional seat, while an obviously corrupting process of replacing a United States Senator through gubernatorial appointment, be allowed to take place statewide?

They should both be on the ballot.

Trochilus on December 30, 2008 at 9:57 AM