Two seemingly crucial phone conversations between then Governor Rod Blagojevich and then White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel are "mysteriously missing" from the collection of evidence held by prosecutors, according to Blago's defense team.
The calls were made around December 8, 2008, the day before Blago was arrested by the Feds.
Defense attorneys claim those phone calls would help bolster their case. Blagojevich still faces 23 counts of conspiracy, fraud and other charges at his retrial, after the first jury only agreed to convict him on one count of lying to federal authorities. His retrial, originally scheduled for February, has been pushed back to April of this year.
Emanuel was not expected to testify, although the latest court filings make it now seem more likely. Attorneys filed pretrial motions with the Federal court in Chicago to demand their return, asking the court to "order the government to tender to the defense the contents of two phone calls." The Court filing states "These calls support Governor Blagojevich's innocent intent and would corroborate his innocence (yet they were never provided to the defense)".
The document also requests an evidentiary hearing to determine the contents of the evidence and why they were not disclosed to defense. Several pages of the court filing are blacked out, presumably to protect information from the public.
Emanuel was asked about the "missing" calls, while speaking at a local factory about the Chicago economy, as part of his bid for mayor.
Although Blago's people specifically say in the court papers that Emanuel isn't being accused of any wrongdoing, stating "Blagojevich makes absolutely no assertion that Rahm Emanuel was ever involved in, or aware of, any wrondoing, criminal or otherwise", the timing of the filings couldn't be good, just two weeks before Chicago's mayoral election. Emanuel is considered a frontrunner.
He typically seems to avoid any talk of the impeached governor, but he insisted there is nothing to hide. "Over two years ago, the White House, the White House transition office, issued a report...that detailed all the conversations. It noted nothing inappropriate or any deal making."
The U.S. Prosecutor's office had no comment on the court filings.