Blagojevich Lawyer Floats Idea of Deposing Obama

by Lynne Marek
The National Law Journal
December 18, 2009

Chicago lawyer Sam E. Adam Jr., one of the lawyers representing indicted former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, is seeking a rare legal experience: deposing a sitting U.S. president.

At a press conference following a Wednesday status conference in the case, Adam said that deposing President Barack Obama would be “a monumental step in a career.” He also said that Obama was a “wonderful, wonderful president” for whom he had voted.

Adam and his colleagues on the Blagojevich defense team asked the court in a Dec. 11 filing to direct prosecutors to provide all notes, transcripts and reports related to the prosecution’s interviews of Obama, as well as White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Senior White House Advisor Valerie Jarrett, regarding the Blagojevich investigation.

The defense lawyers want access to the information so they can decide whether to depose the executive branch officials. If, after reading the files, there’s nothing worth further inquiry, they won’t seek depositions, Adam said.

At the Wednesday hearing in Chicago, U.S. District Judge James Zagel said he would take briefs on the discovery motion and hold a hearing on the issue next month. The request is coming before Zagel has set a schedule for handling discovery motions for the June trial.

The defense team wants this particular material sooner rather than later in case White House officials decide to fight the depositions on the basis of executive privilege, Adam said at the press conference. “Why start on this two months from the trial when we can get it now?” he said.

Still, Adam believes that as a “constitutional scholar,” Obama would understand Blagojevich’s right to the information that a deposition could yield.

Also at the hearing, prosecutors discussed their intention to revise the April indictment of Blagojevich, who was charged with 16 felony counts, including fraud and racketeering. A number of those charges invoke the federal “honest services” statute. Prosecutors want to rework how they charge the underlying conduct to brace for a coming U.S. Supreme Court decision that may limit the use of the honest-services law.

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