A possible witness in the federal trial against Antoin “Tony” Rezko would testify that former White House aide Karl Rove was involved in discussions to remove U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald from the brewing case against the politically-connected Chicago businessman, prosecutors reportedly said Wednesday morning.
The conversations are alleged to have occurred in 2004, prosecutors told U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve in an early-morning conference, according to a transcript of the proceedings.
At that time, Fitzgerald was also investigating the White House’s leak of Valerie Plame’s identity as a CIA officer. Fitzgerald did not indict Rove, though the former aide reportedly faced legal jeopardy in the case, and testified four times before a grand jury on the matter.
Prosecutors want to call Rezko associate Ali Ata to testify, they told Judge St. Eve. They said they expect part of his testimony to cover conversations Ata allegedly had with Rezko that Rove was working with Rezko ally and GOP heavyweight Bob Kjellander to get Fitzgerald taken off the case.
If they occurred, the alleged conversations would predate the Bush administration’s more systematic effort in 2005 to remove U.S. attorneys it perceived as disloyal.