But during the calls, both Trump and his acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney appeared at least somewhat unfamiliar with some of the details of Blagojevich’s case, sources familiar with the call told CNN.
During a call with Rep. Mike Bost (R-IL) Trump said that while he he “saw a sentence that didn’t meet the crime … he did express he wished he had the perspective earlier,” Bost told CNN. “The answer he gave me: He would continue to look at it.”
Rep. Darin LaHood (R-IL) also reportedly spoke to Trump personally about the matter and informed him about the various allegations against the former governor, including his threats to pull millions of dollars from a children’s hospital if its CEO didn’t donate to his campaign and his efforts to sell former President Barack Obama’s senate seat, which he gave up when he was elected president.
The White House has been working for several months to prepare for President Trump to commute the disgraced ex-governor’s sentence, of which he has already served seven years. The move was spurred on by Trump son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, who reportedly thought it would throw a bone to Democrats. Despite LaHood, Bost and CNN’s other sources’ claims, an administration official told CNN that Blagojevich’s case had been “vetted significantly.”
All five Illinois House Republicans issued a statement last week calling on Trump to reconsider. Several of those Republicans reportedly made calls to Mulvaney and White House counsel Pat Cipollone last week.
The New York Times and Fox News were first to report that Trump might be pumping the breaks on commuting the former governor — and former “Celebrity Apprentice” contestant — after telling reporters last week that he was mulling setting him free.