Blago Trial: Illinois Official Says Obama Called Him About Senate Seat

Witness in Blagojevich trial testifies Obama called him about Senate seat

ByABC News
June 23, 2010, 4:39 PM

June 29, 2010— -- Testimony in the trial of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich today indicated that President Obama may have been more connected to the haggling over his Senate seat than he has previously acknowledged.

The revelations came out in the testimony of Thomas Balanoff, an official with the Service Employees International Union.

Balanoff, president of the SEIU's Local 1, testified that he was out to dinner the night before the presidential election, when his cell phone rang. The caller ID was blocked and Balanoff chose not to answer, he told the court.

Balanoff said he only later realized who had called, when he went outside to listen to the message, which said "Tom, this is Barack. Give me a call."

Later that night, when Balanoff was filing up his gas tank at a local station, Obama called again, Balanoff said. In his testimony, Balanoff said Obama told him he thought there were several good candidates for the Senate job, and that he would not be supporting anyone for the office.

But, at the same time Balanoff said Obama did mention that his friend Valerie Jarrett was interested in the job. According to Balanoff's testimony, Obama told him that he would prefer to have Jarrett work with him at the White House, but that she was qualified to be a senator.

Balanoff told Obama that he would make a pitch to then Governor Blagojevich for Jarrett's appointment.