US atty asks panel not to subpoena Obama aides

CHICAGO (AP) - December 27, 2008 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.

Blagojevich was arrested Dec. 9 on charges accusing him of scheming to swap Obama's vacant Senate seat for profit, shaking down a hospital executive for campaign donations and other wrongdoing.

Genson 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.

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