The conservative watchdog Judicial Watch announced Monday that it’s filing a FOIA lawsuit against the Department of Justice seeking access to FBI interviews related to former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s criminal investigation.
The organization is seeking FBI reports of interviews, known as “302s,” of President Obama, Valerie Jarrett, and Rahm Emanuel.
“The FBI interviewed Barack Obama eight years ago about the selling of his Senate seat. The American people should finally get to see these FBI interview reports,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The public has a right to know precisely how Obama and his senior White House advisors Emanuel and Jarrett responded to Blagojevich’s corrupt attempts sell Obama’s Senate seat.”
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
After the 2008 election, Blagojevich attempted to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by then President-elect Obama.Blagojevich approached the president-elect as well as supporters of Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.
Obama declined to make a deal, and he was about to make a deal with Rep. Jackson’s supporters for $1.5 million in exchange for offering the U.S. Senate seat when he learned federal investigators were wiretapping him.
After two criminal trials in 2010 and 2011, Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in jail for 18 separate charges.
Judicial Watch asked the FBI through FOIA to produce the 302s in June 2011.
The FBI confirmed that the records existed, but denied the request in 2012 because the criminal case was ongoing.
In May 2016, Judicial Watch sued for the records for the first time after the Supreme Court refused to review Blagojevich’s convictions.
The organization closed the lawsuit while Blagojevich was being re-sentenced and re-filed it after he was re-sentenced.
The lawsuit says the records could not be said to “reasonably interfere” with the former governor’s prosecution as he pursues an appeal of his sentence.