Tales from the Trail

Blago judge says Obama doesn’t have to testify

BLAGOJEVICH-ILLINOIS/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.

Blagojevich asks for President Obama to testify

Rod Blagojevich’s attorneys have asked for President Barack Obama to testify at the former Illinois governor’s corruption trial, saying he would be “a critical witness.”

In an apparent mechanical error, blacked-out portions of the defense’s request were visible for some time online, and were subsequently published on the websites of Chicago’s daily  newspapers.

Among the disclosures in the redacted portions of the defense motion were that Obama spoke to Blagojevich on December 1, 2008, eight days before Blagojevich was arrested by FBI agents.