Reid subpoenaed in Blagojevich case

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Harry Reid has been subpoenaed by the attorneys for Rod Blagojevich to testify at the former Illinois governor's political corruption trial, Reid's office confirmed Thursday.

An attorney for Reid, D-Nev., accepted service of the subpoena "as a routine legal matter," spokesman Jim Manley said. "This action does not mean that Senator Reid will testify at trial."

Blagojevich stands accused of various charges of corruption, including allegations he solicited bribes as he weighed who to appoint to fill the U.S. Senate seat left vacant when Barack Obama was elected president in 2008.

He was arrested in December 2008, and later was removed from office by the Illinois state Senate.

The Reid subpoena was first reported by the Chicago Sun-Times, which also noted Reid would be in Chicago on today for several fundraisers, including one hosted by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

It was not clear why Blagojevich would call on Reid, the Senate majority leader who publicly has said the former Illinois governor "is a corrupt individual, I think that is pretty clear."

Douglas McNabb, a criminal defense attorney in Washington, said while a subpoena would compel Reid to show up for trial, it is possible the defense might not call him to testify.

Even before it got to that point, McNabb said, it is likely that attorneys for Reid would file a motion objecting to the subpoena and asking that it be quashed on the grounds his testimony would not be relevant.

"We see that a lot in federal criminal cases where the defendant wants to subpoena high-profile people because they are trying to kick up the visibility of the trial and that rarely works," McNabb said.

Durbin disclosed last month that he had been subpoenaed. Blagojevich attorneys also have sought to subpoena Obama, but that was denied by a federal judge.

Reid became connected to the Blagojevich saga when he and the Illinois governor spoke over the phone at one point in early December 2008, when Blagojevich was weighing the Senate appointment.

The Sun-Times reported a month later that Reid pressured Blagojevich to name state Attorney General Lisa Madigan or state Veterans Affairs chief Tammy Duckworth to the post.

Reid reportedly argued against naming Reps. Danny Davis or Jesse Jackson Jr., or state Rep. Emil Jones, for fear those candidates could not successfully defend the seat in the 2010 election. The three men are African-Americans.

Reid, during an appearance on "Meet the Press," denied the reports, blamed the leak on Blagojevich, and said the governor "is making all this up."

He said the conversation with Blagojevich was general in nature and similar to talks he was having with New York and Colorado governors who also were looking to fill Senate vacancies.

Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at or 292-783-1760.