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Trump Says He's Strongly Considering Commuting Prison Sentence of Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich

August 08, 2019 - 7:25 am
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President Trump said he's strongly considering commuting the prison sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Mr. Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One on Wednesday that Blagojevich, who was convicted in 2011 of several corruption charges, including trying to sell an appointment to former President Obama's Senate seat, has served "enough" time in prison.

"He's been in jail for seven years, over a phone call where nothing happens. But over a phone -- where nothing happened. Over a phone call where -- which, you know, he shouldn't have said what he said, but it was braggadocio, you would say. I would think that there have been many politicians -- I'm not one of them, by the way -- but that have said a lot worse over telephones," Mr. Trump told reporters.

Last year, Mr. Trump floated commuting Blagojevich's 14-year sentence. He has been in prison since 2012. At the time, the president mentioned that Blagojevich had been a contestant on his reality TV show "The Apprentice." He noted that the former Democratic governor had been on the show for "a short period of time."

The 18 charges against Blagojevich included trying to leverage his power as governor to appoint someone to Mr. Obama's vacated seat after the 2008 election in order to raise campaign money or secure a cabinet position. Mr. Trump compared Blagojevich's punishment to that of criminals convicted of drug-related offenses, and pronounced his sentence "very unfair."

A federal appeals court in 2015 overturned some of those convictions, ruling that the Democrat did not technically break the law when he sought to secure a cabinet position in the Obama administration in exchange for appointing an Obama adviser to the president's former Senate seat.

Mr. Trump also commended Blagojevich's wife, calling her "one hell of a woman" for standing by her husband. Blagojevich's wife and two daughters had pleaded for leniency during his 2016 resentencing, but the 14-year sentence was upheld.

U.S. District Judge James Zagel said at the time that it was an "unfortunate reality" that Blagojevich's innocent family members were made to suffer the consequences.

Mr. Trump said the embattled ex-governor should finally be able to "go back home to his wife and children."