Impeachment panel offered tapes on Blagojevich

CHICAGO Mon Dec 29, 2008 5:11pm EST

Governor Rod Blagojevich of Illinois addresses questions about charges brought against him of conspiracy and bribery, including allegations he was seeking to benefit financially from his appointment of a successor to the Senate seat that was vacated by President-elect Barack Obama during a news conference in Chicago, December 19, 2008. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes

Governor Rod Blagojevich of Illinois addresses questions about charges brought against him of conspiracy and bribery, including allegations he was seeking to benefit financially from his appointment of a successor to the Senate seat that was vacated by President-elect Barack Obama during a news conference in Chicago, December 19, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Jeff Haynes

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CHICAGO (Reuters) - Prosecutors agreed on Monday to provide an impeachment panel with tape-recordings in which investigators say Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is heard scheming to sell the powers of his office.

Patrick Fitzgerald, the U.S. Attorney in Chicago, said he will ask a judge next week for permission to turn over redacted versions of four intercepted conversations in which investigators say Blagojevich is heard talking about exchanging state funding and contracts for campaign contributions.

Up to now, Fitzgerald has asked the impeachment committee not to subpoena witnesses that might bear on the criminal conspiracy case against Blagojevich that includes charges the second-term Democratic governor tried to peddle his power to fill President-elect Barack Obama's vacant U.S. Senate seat.

The impeachment panel acceded to Fitzgerald's request not to call Obama's future chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, and two other Obama aides to testify. Fitzgerald has said Obama is not implicated in the case.

Blagojevich's attorney, Edward Genson, submitted to the panel an internal report ordered by Obama that concluded there were no inappropriate dealings between Obama's staff and the governor or his office.

The fate of Obama's vacant Senate seat is in limbo, with Blagojevich not expected to fill it because of the taint of the investigation and Democrats who control the state legislature putting off consideration of a special election.

Also on Monday, Emanuel announced he would resign his seat representing a Illinois district in the U.S. House of Representatives on January 2. The seat will be filled by a special election.

Blagojevich, 52, has vehemently denied doing anything wrong, defying calls from within his own party to resign and saying the impeachment effort is led by "a political lynch mob."

Genson said the governor would not appear before the impeachment panel, which he criticized as failing to follow standards for evidence.

(Reporting by Andrew Stern, editing by Vicki Allen)

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