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Blagojevich Impeachment Committee Split on Subpoena for Top Obama Aides

The committee considering the impeachment of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is divided on whether to subpoena top aides of President-Elect Obama's incoming administration.

Blagojevich's attorney Edward Genson sent the 21-member panel a list of requested witnesses, including incoming chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, both of whom were interviewed last week by federal prosecutors in the governor's corruption probe.

The list also included U.S. Representative Jesse Jackson Jr.

Republican committee members want to grant the requests for the aides and Jackson, Bloomberg News reported. 

"I think we should subpoena these people, but there is no way in the world the Democrats are going to allow them to be questioned," Rep. Roger Eddy, one of nine Republicans on the panel, told Bloomberg.

Democratic Chairwoman Barbara Flynn Currie, the only member of the panel with the authority to issue subpoenas, told the Chicago Tribune she wasn't sure if Genson's requests would be granted.

The requests came a day after U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald told the panel that pursuing witnesses connected to the federal investigation could "significantly compromise" his case, the Tribune reported.

Democratic members accused Genson of trying to set them up.

"This is a smoke screen," Rep. Lou Lang told the Tribune. "He's asking for subpoenas of witnesses he knows the U.S. Attorney does not want us to have, and I for one am not going to allow him to turn this into a circus or sideshow ... We have said all along we won't do anything to step on the toes of investigators."

Genson said the panel was trying to "railroad" Blagojevich, the Tribune reported.

"The fact of the matter is if a person is telling the truth, what difference does it make if he tells it twice? How does that hurt their case?" Genson asked the Tribune. "That's just the legislature and Mr. Fitzgerald trying to put a reality on something that doesn't make sense."

Obama's team last week released an internal review that confirmed no "inappropriate" discussions had taken place between his staff and Blagojevich's office.

Blagojevich is accused of trying to use his authority to appoint Obama's Senate replacement to get cash or a lucrative job for himself. The governor has denied any criminal wrongdoing and has resisted multiple calls for his resignation, including from Obama. 

Genson said the testimony from the aides will prove the governor's insistence he did nothing illegal to fill the seat.

The impeachment committee was created on Dec. 15, after Democratic Illinois House of Representatives Speaker Michael Madigan said the governor had been given enough time to resign.

It is set to reconvene Monday.

Click here to read the full report from Bloomberg.
Click here to read the report from ChicagoTribune.