Blagojevich Defense Team Seeks Tape With Emanuel

Updated 02/08/11 – 2:00 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Attorneys for deposed Gov. Rod Blagojevich filed a motion early Tuesday morning, demanding the release of a recorded phone conversation with then-White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

Defense attorneys want prosecutors to produce the recorded conversation with Emanuel, who is now the front-runner in the race for Chicago mayor.

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They say it will show Emanuel was willing to help with a deal involving the sale or trade of President Obama’s vacated Senate seat.

The motion claims the conversation happened just the day before Blagojevich’s December, 2008 arrest on charges that include allegations he sought to sell or trade the appointment for personal gain.


Emanuel has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

The call between Emanuel and then Blagojevich chief of staff John Harris is not among hundreds of transcripts of secret FBI wiretaps recorded before Blagojevich’s arrest.

The defense motion points only to circumstantial evidence that it even happened, including a reference in a White House transition-team report from after the arrest that said Emanuel had “about four” conversations with Harris. The defense was given records of only three conversations, according to the motion.

“The fourth and final phone call is the call that is mysteriously missing,” it adds. “Piecing together multiple documents after the first trial, Blagojevich uncovered the fact that the December 8th phone call … took place.”

Federal prosecutors said they would not respond publicly to the claims of a missing tape.

Blagojevich’s attorney, Sheldon Sorosky, said the motion shouldn’t do any political damage to Emanuel. Sorosky said it could even help Emanuel because it asserts he never did anything improper. He noted the prosecution has also never accused Emanuel of wrongdoing.

The motion says the alleged call would support a defense contention Emanuel was willing to help with a deal in which Blagojevich would have named Illinois’ attorney general the Senate.

Emanuel, who is running for mayor, downplayed the importance of the motion, saying a White House “comprehensive review” two years ago found “nothing inappropriate or any deal making.”

He said he’s not worried the motion was filed two weeks before the election.

Blagojevich faces 23 charges at his April retrial, after jurors at his first trial last year agreed only on one of 24 counts and convicted him of lying to the FBI. Both prosecutors and defense attorneys have been ordered to file all pretrial motions by next week.

The defense’s latest filing comes just two weeks before Chicago’s mayoral election. Emanuel has a considerable fund-raising advantage and leads in polls in the race to replace retiring Mayor Richard Daley.

Emanuel has said little about the Blagojevich case publicly, often citing the ongoing legal proceedings for not commenting in detail. The White House report released in 2008 by the then president-elect’s office concluded neither Emanuel nor anyone else on Obama’s staff had had any “inappropriate discussions” with Blagojevich or his aides.

It found that Emanuel had had “one or two telephone calls” with Blagojevich and “about four” with Harris, who testified for the government at Blagojevich’s first trial.

In their motion, defense attorneys contend details of a final conversation they say took place between Emanuel and Harris would support Blagojevich’s claim that he merely hoped to forge a deal in which he would name Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan to the Senate seat in exchange for her father, powerful Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, pushing a legislative package favored by the governor.

Prosecutors have portrayed the supposed Madigan deal as a red herring designed to obscure multiple bids by Blagojevich to effectively sell the seat not for the benefit of his Illinois constituents, but for his own personal gain.

About half of the pages in Tuesday’s defense motion are blacked out, including names and excerpts from wiretap recording transcripts that federal Judge James Zagel has ruled aren’t pertinent to the case and should remain under seal.

Speaking after the motion was filed, Blagojevich attorney Sheldon Sorosky declined to offer details about why the defense could not have raised the issue of alleged missing evidence sooner.

But he denied the timing of the motion was designed to piggyback on publicly surrounding the Feb. 22 mayoral election, and he dismissed that the idea that raising Emanuel’s name in a pretrial document could harm him politically.

“It might help him — because it shows he didn’t do anything wrong,” he said. “If we’d said he did something wrong, perhaps this could be seen as election-related. But we’re not saying he did nothing wrong and neither is the government.”

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  • mook

    complete narcissism.

    Blago wants to extend his 15 minutes of fame before heading off to the clink in an orange jumpsuit as the future mayor of Chicago sits laughing.


    ….yes lets all hear it, this honest hard working man spending $11 million for a job that pays $160K.?!?sounds like some ones ego is out of control, or their is going to be alot of favors, kickbacks, no-bid contracts, and other old chicago tricks these hacks and lackies have under the covers….watch it people of chicago, they might sell your house like they did the parking meters,….

  • Wallace Gator Bradley

    The Rahm/Blago Tapesis very important the people of Chicago needs to know who this man really is and what he and his supporters will do to help him win and hide the truth about this man, who feel that he is above the law.

    This man was doing all kinds of things in the White House in Dec. 2008, to hide who he really is; .

  • greg

    This stinks William “Dock” Walls for Mayor how can the so called top 3 produce anything but the same stink.

  • Vicky

    Whoever votes for this crook deserves what they get.

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  • Bessie

    The feds probably lost the minutes to the two hour interview they had with then President elect Obama….Fire Fitz, he’s every bit as corrupt as the defendents he prosecutes…

  • grant

    here is the info

  • Nonliberal

    IL and Chicago voters deserve every repercussion, every minute of suffering, corruption, and degradation to their State and community they have bestowed upon themselves!

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