Update, 1:45 p.m.: Trump confirmed the commutation of Blagojevich’s sentence.
Trump has commuted the prison sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Trump told reporters at Joint Base Andrews that Blagojevich "served 8 years in jail. It's a long time to go."
— erica orden (@eorden) February 18, 2020
A corrupt governor can be "more damaging than any other office in the United States, except that of the President." — Judge Zagel, in 2011, upon sentencing Rod Blagojevich to 14 years in prison.
— Orin Kerr (@OrinKerr) February 18, 2020
A former Celebrity Apprentice contestant and impeached former Democratic Illinois governor who was imprisoned for trying to sell Barack Obama’s Senate seat is going to see his 14-year sentence commuted by President Donald Trump, according to reports.
Rob Blagojevich, ABC News says, is expected to have his sentence commuted. He has served more than eight years behind bars. Absent a commutation, Blagojevich was scheduled to be released in March 2024.
— John Santucci (@Santucci) February 18, 2020
*TRUMP EXPECTED TO COMMUTE FORMER GOV. BLAGOJEVICH: ABC
— Laura Litvan (@LauraLitvan) February 18, 2020
Reminder that Blagojevich is in jail for trying to SELL BARACK OBAMA'S SENATE SEAT https://t.co/FMiIcftdFz
— Jeremy Hobson (@jeremyhobson) February 18, 2020
Blagojevich was literally impeached and removed from office (in a unanimous vote), and barred from ever holding state office again. This is Trump's way of saying f-you to the very idea of impeachment https://t.co/oClAxmTEem
— David Nir (@DavidNir) February 18, 2020
BREAKING: Trump is expected to commute the 14-year prison sentence of disgraced former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, setting in motion a process that could free him shortly from a Colorado prison, according to news reports. https://t.co/gffnw7CNGe
— Chicago Sun-Times (@Suntimes) February 18, 2020
Blagojevich appeared as a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice. Blagojevich's wife, Patti, made a direct appeal to Trump by criticizing Obama, Comey, and Mueller on Fox News. The accelerating politicization of rule of law is extremely dangerous to American democracy. https://t.co/x1w7vRIbCb
— Brian Klaas (@brianklaas) February 18, 2020
Trump has floated the Rod Blagojevich pardon repeatedly. At fundraiser last year at his Chicago hotel, he polled the room on whether he should do it, taking some donors by surprise.
— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) February 18, 2020
Blagojevich made headlines as recently as January for transparently seeking a pardon. In an op-ed from prison that appeared in Newsmax, Blagojevich railed against “today’s Democrats” and said Trump was unfairly impeached. He claimed to have an “interesting and unique perspective about impeachment” because he, too, was impeached after his corruption came to light.
“[T]oday’s Democrats would have impeached Lincoln for obstruction of Congress and abuse of power when he unilaterally issued his Emancipation Proclamation,” Blagojevich wrote. “Lincoln didn’t ask Congress for permission when he declared an end to nearly 250 years of slavery and offered freedom to millions of slaves in the American South. He neither consulted Congress nor sought its consent before he acted. In fact, at the time Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, the Democrats of that day opposed it.”
“Can’t you see how a Speaker Pelosi and many of today’s House Democrats would call for the appointment of a Special Counsel to investigate Lincoln for ‘Confederate Collusion’ and bring impeachment charges for abuse of power for offering the top military command to a guy who would go on to become the top military commander of the other side?” Blagojevich asked.
President Trump has long signaled this day would come for Blagojevich.
“His wife I think is fantastic and I’m thinking about commuting his sentence very strongly. I think it’s enough, seven years,” Trump said in Aug. 2019. “A man who is a Democrat, not a Republican—who I don’t know very well, but he was on ‘The Apprentice’ . . . I thought he was treated unbelievably unfairly. And a lot of people thought it was unfair, like a lot of other things — and it was the same gang, the [James] Comey gang and all these sleazebags that did it . . . and I’m thinking about commuting his sentence,” Trump told reporters.
It didn’t take long for The Onion to mock the Tuesday development as only it can.
— The Onion (@TheOnion) February 18, 2020
Jerry Lambe contributed to this report.
[Image via NBC screengrab]