Blagojevich Investigators Won't Subpoena Obama Aides

CHICAGO -- The Illinois House committee investigating a possible impeachment of Gov. Rod Blagojevich won't subpoena two incoming White House advisers, the committee chairwoman said Saturday, shutting down a request from the governor's attorney.

In a letter received by the committee Friday, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald asked the special investigative committee specifically to not subpoena President-elect Barack Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, incoming chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and Nils Larsen, a Tribune Co. executive vice president.

Fitzgerald said any such subpoenas "would interfere with the ongoing criminal investigation into the activities of Governor Rod Blagojevich and others."

Blagojevich's attorney Ed Genson had asked the committee earlier in the week to issue the subpoenas.

"The ball is in Mr. Genson's court," committee chairwoman state Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, a Chicago Democrat, told The Associated Press on Saturday. "We're not interested in undercutting the U.S. Attorney's criminal investigation."

Genson did not immediately respond to a call requesting comment Saturday on the committee's decision.

Speaking to a WLS-TV reporter outside a Chicago law office Friday, the governor said he was hired to fight for the people of Illinois and that's what he's been doing.

The interview marked the first time Blagojevich has spoken to the media since giving a defiant three-minute speech last Friday.

The 52-year-old Democrat was arrested on Dec. 9 and charged with scheming to sell President-elect Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat to the highest bidder, a charge the governor denies.

"Even in this process, without saying too much, that was all about trying to end up with the right decision that could do the most things for the people of Illinois, and when the full truth is told, you will see precisely that," Blagojevich said.

"If somehow that's impeachable, then I'm on the wrong planet and I'm living in the wrong place," he said.

Blagojevich's lawyer has said testimony from Emanuel, Jarrett and Jackson would help prove the governor's claim that he didn't do anything wrong in his handling of Obama's Senate seat.

Fitzgerald, however, said any testimony by Jarrett, Emanuel, Jackson or Larsen "would overlap with the subject matter of the pending criminal investigation."

Larsen has been reported to be the Tribune financial adviser to whom Blagojevich instructed aides to talk about firing editorial writers in exchange for a grant to help sell Wrigley Field, home of the Tribune-owned Chicago Cubs.

State Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, the House committee's head, said Thursday that the panel received a letter from Genson asking members to subpoena Emanuel, Jarrett and more than a dozen others.

On Dec. 22, Fitzgerald had sent the committee a letter asking members not to delve into the criminal charges against Blagojevich, saying interviewing current or former members of Blagojevich's staff might jeopardize his criminal investigation.

The House panel is next set to meet Monday.