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Source: Administration officials subpoenaed in Blagojevich trial

By the CNN Wire Staff
Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich enters the courthouse in Chicago for the first day of his trial.
Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich enters the courthouse in Chicago for the first day of his trial.
  • NEW: White House officials subpoenaed in trial of former Illinois governor
  • Blagojevich charged with corruption
  • Prosecutors cite near-constant conspiracy of extortion, kickbacks
  • Lawyers file motion to subpoena Obama

Chicago, Illinois (CNN) -- Two senior members of President Barack Obama's administration have been subpoenaed as witnesses in the federal corruption trial of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, which begins Thursday in a federal courtroom in Chicago, Illinois.

Blagojevich is charged with racketeering and fraud, among other charges.

A senior administration official confirmed that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett have been subpoenaed.

Blagojevich, a two-term Democrat, was impeached and removed from office in January 2009 amid accusations that he had attempted to sell the U.S. Senate seat that had been occupied by Obama before he became president.

The ousted governor is accused of telling his former chief of staff, John Harris, that he wanted "a good gig" in exchange for an appointment to Obama's seat, either in Washington or with a lucrative private foundation.

Blagojevich was arrested in December 2008 on federal corruption charges.

Authorities have said that Blagojevich and his inner circle engaged in a near-constant conspiracy of extortion and kickbacks after his 2002 election.

He has denied any suggestion of wrongdoing.

"I will fight, I will fight, and I will fight until I take my last breath," he said after his arrest.

The accusations against Blagojevich include offering to divert state contracts to individuals and firms that made campaign contributions and appointing contributors or their associates to key state positions.

Fundraisers "understood that Blagojevich viewed those appointments as an opportunity to reward big fundraisers or Blagojevich's supporters," prosecutors wrote. "Blagojevich consistently wanted to know who recommended a particular candidate for a board or commission slot."

Video: Patti Blagojevich defends husband

The accusations also contend that tens of thousands of dollars in unearned commissions and unnecessary retainer fees were diverted to Blagojevich's wife after he and his co-conspirators learned that they were being investigated.

In April, Blagojevich held a defiant news conference in which he called his accusers "liars" and "cowards" and directly challenged U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who is heading the prosecution.

He repeated that he was innocent and that tapes that FBI agents made of his phone conversations would prove it.

Also in April, Blagojevich's lawyers filed a motion seeking to subpoena Obama to testify in the case.

According to the 10-page motion, Obama's public assertion that he had no involvement in talks about filling his Senate seat contradicts information from another witness in the case.

"The defense understands that the President of the United States of America is not a routine witness and would not request his appearance if it did not think he was critical to the liberty of Rod Blagojevich," the motion said.

In the year and a half since his arrest, Blagojevich got his own radio talk show, wrote a book, and was a contestant on NBC'S "Celebrity Apprentice."

That stint ended when host Donald Trump told him, "You're fired!"

CNN's Ted Rowlands contributed to this report.