Trump says he may commute Rod Blagojevich’s prison sentence

Trump says he may commute Rod Blagojevich's prison sentence

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump says he may commute the prison sentence of Rod Blagojevich, the former Illinois governor convicted of federal corruption charges that included efforts to sell former President Barack Obama’s old U.S. Senate seat.

Noting that Blagojevich was once a guest on his television program, “The Apprentice,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One late Wednesday that “I think he was treated very, very unfairly, just as others were.”

Blagojevich, who entered federal prison in 2012, is in the middle of a 14-year sentence after being convicted on federal charges of using his powers as governor to extract campaign money and other political favors.

In 2015, a federal appeals court threw out some of the charges related to Blagojevich’s attempts to sell an appointment to the Senate job that Obama vacated after he won the 2008 presidential election. The appeals court left the other charges intact.

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Trump also suggested he might commute Blagojevich’s sentence in May of 2018. A month later, Blagojevich filed paperwork with the Justice Department formally requesting a commutation.

“I am thinking very seriously about commuting his sentence so that he can go home to his family after seven years,” Trump said Wednesday. “I’ve been thinking about that for a long time. I thought, from day one — I said, ‘Boy, that is really tough stuff.'”

In deriding the length of Blagojevich’s sentence, Trump criticized “the gang” around former FBI Director James Comey and “all those sleazebags.” But Comey, fired by Trump in 2017 during the investigation of Russian election interference, did not take over the FBI until 2013, the year after Blagojevich went to prison. 

Speaking with reporters after a trip to Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, to meet with survivors of mass shootings, Trump cast the prospective commutation of Blagojevich as a bipartisan gesture.

“A man who is a Democrat, not a Republican,” Trump said. “Who I don’t know very well, but he was on ‘The Apprentice’ for a couple of weeks.”

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