A nonprofit government watchdog is suing the Department of Justice (DOJ) for FBI interviews with President Barack Obama and his key aides about former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s attempt to sell the U.S. Senate seat previously held by the commander-in-chief.
Judicial Watch announced its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Monday after the DOJ denied its longstanding request for transcripts of FBI interviews between Obama and senior aides Valerie Jarrett and Rahm Emanuel.
The interviews were part of the FBI’s investigation into Blagojevich’s 2008 effort to obtain appointment to Obama’s former Senate seat in exchange for political favors.
“The FBI interviewed Barack Obama eight years ago about the selling of his Senate seat,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement. “The American people should finally get to see these FBI interview reports. 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.”
Blagojevich was convicted on 18 corruption charges in criminal trials in 2010 and 2011 and sentenced to 14 years in federal prison in 2011. But the DOJ denied Judicial Watch’s initial 2011 FOIA request for the records, citing the ongoing criminal case. (RELATED: Nonprofit Sues IRS For Shielding Records From Taxpayers)
Judicial Watch first filed suit for the records in March, 2016, after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review the case, but withdrew until after the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois upheld the former governor’s 14-year sentence in August, 2016.
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