Blago judge says Obama doesn’t have to testify
The federal judge overseeing the corruption trial of Rod Blagojevich said he sees no need for President Barack Obama to testify, denying a defense request, though he left open the possibility.
“The testimony of the president is not material to this case,” James Zagel of the U.S. District Court in Chicago said at a hearing on Friday.
The issue, as Zagel framed it, was whether Blagojevich thought that a union official coming to see him about who best to fill Obama’s old U.S. Senate seat was an emissary for the president.
According to a defense filing, the unnamed union offiicial said he discussed the seat with Obama the day before the Nov. 4, 2008, election.
Blagojevich, a two-term Democrat ousted from office last year, is accused of trying to sell the Senate seat, which he had the power to fill. He goes on trial on June 3 on 24 counts related to using his office to leverage campaign contributions and job offers for himself and his wife.
Zagel left open the possibility that Obama, a Chicagoan, could be asked to testify later in the trial if the defense presents “affirmative evidence.”
“The president might have something to say … I might change my view on this,” Zagel said.
Blagojevich’s attorney, Sheldon Sorosky, said he was disappointed but insisted the development would not hurt the defense’s case.
- Photo credit: Reuters/Frank Polich (Rod Blagojevich and attorney Sheldon Sorosky)