CHICAGO
01/27/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Fitzgerald Asks Blago Impeachment Panel Not To Subpoena Obama Aides

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

In a letter received by the committee Friday, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said any such subpoenas "would interfere with the ongoing criminal investigation into the activities of Governor Rod Blagojevich and others."

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

"The committee unanimously decided from the beginning that they wouldn't do anything to impede the investigation," committee spokesman Steve Brown said Saturday. "We'll follow that practice."

Blagojevich's defense attorney Ed Genson did not immediately respond to a phone message left Saturday requesting comment on the committee's decision.

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 said any testimony from 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.

Blagojevich has denied any wrongdoing. He has vowed to fight federal corruption charges, including allegations that he schemed to sell Obama's vacant Senate seat to the highest bidder.

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.