The media are abuzz about the possibility that Hillary Clinton, a former first lady, senator and secretary of state and now a Democratic hopeful for the presidency, could be interviewed by the FBI over her use of a home server for top-secret government emails while she was in office.
But that’s not the only FBI interview of a top Obama official that’s starting to get attention.
There was another interview – with Barack Obama himself – that now is the subject of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit because the government is withholding details from the public.
“This lawsuit highlights the personal corruption issues of Barack Obama,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Barack Obama and his closest aides were interviewed by the FBI in a criminal investigation and his administration doesn’t want Americans to have the details.
“The Chicago way shouldn’t trump the American people’s right to know,” he said.
The FBI interview with Obama, which reportedly lasted two hours, was at the time when former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was facing charges for trying to sell Obama’s U.S. Senate seat.
Judicial Watch said Thursday it has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Justice in Washington to obtain the FBI interview records of Obama, who at the time was leaving the Senate as president-elect.
Obama, top aide Valerie Jarrett and his former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, now mayor of Chicago, were interviewed, Judicial Watch said.
Blagojevich eventually was convicted on multiple counts and is serving a prison sentence.
Judicial Watch filed its FOIA request in 2011 for records of FBI interviews with Obama, Emanuel and Jarrett “concerning or relating” to Blagojevich.
The Washington watchdog group reported that in 2012, the FBI denied the FOIA request, claiming the records were exempt.
At the time, Record/Information Dissemination Section Chief David M. Hardy said, “I have determined that the records responsive to your request are law enforcement records; that there is a pending or prospective law enforcement proceeding relevant to these requests; and that the release of the information contained in these responsive records could reasonably be expected to interfere with the enforcement proceedings.”
An appeal shortly later was denied.
The watchdog said it was on Dec. 8, 2008, only about a week after Blagojevich was arrested, when Obama “was questioned at his Chicago transition office by two assistant United States attorneys and two FBI agents for two hours about the scandal surrounding the alleged sale of the Senate seat he vacated.”
“In January 2009, Judicial Watch released documents from the office of then-Governor Rod Blagojevich related to Blagojevich’s contacts with president-elect Obama and his transition team. The documents include a December 3, 2008, letter from Barack Obama following his December 2, 2008, meeting with Blagojevich as well as a November 17, 2008, letter signed by presidential transition team co-chairs Valerie Jarrett and John Podesta providing Blagojevich with a list of transition team contacts. These documents tend to undermine Obama’s claims that he had no contact with Blagojevich,” Judicial Watch reported.
The former governor was convicted on 17 public corruption charges, and although some later were vacated, he’s presently not set for release until 2024.
The Blagojevich case was one of the more bizarre episodes in recent politics. A book about the case claimed Blagojevich said he had heard that convicted influence peddler Antoin Rezko secretly channeled $25,000 in cash to Obama.