President Trump will commute former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s 14-year prison sentence.
While speaking to reporters at Joint Base Andrews Tuesday, Trump confirmed Blagojevich’s commutation and called his prison sentence “tremendously powerful” and “ridiculous.” Trump also claimed that he doesn’t know Blagojevich well despite his appearance on the Celebrity Apprentice years ago.
“He has served eight years in jail. He has a long time to go. Many people disagree with the sentence. He’s a Democrat, he’s not a Republican,” Trump said. “It was a prosecution by the same people, the same group.”
Trump added that Blagojevich being “very far from his children” factored in his decision to commute the former Illinois governor’s sentence.
“They’re growing older, they’re going to high school now, and they rarely get to see their father outside of an orange uniform,” Trump said. “I saw that and I did commute his sentence. So he’ll be able to go back home with his family after serving eight years in jail.”
Trump says he's commuting Blagojevich's sentence pic.twitter.com/LZzrarDC5U
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) February 18, 2020
ABC News first reported the news Tuesday.
Blagojevich, who was charged with seeking to exchange an appointment to former President Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat for campaign funds, has served more than seven years at the Federal Correctional Institution outside of Littleton, Colorado. His expected release date is 2024.
Last August, Trump teased in a tweet that White House staff was reviewing the possibility of commuting Blagojevich’s sentence. However, the potential commutation was put on hold after a Trump official expressed concern, which stoked new uncertainty over Blagojevich’s release.
TPM noted in a report last year that Trump may have been toying with Blagojevich’s possible pardon or commutation in the same way he did during his four-episode run on Celebrity Apprentice in 2010. Blagojevich appeared on the reality TV show as he awaited trial on federal criminal charges. Trump fired him on the show.
Illinois House Republican lawmakers said they are “disappointed” in response to Trump’s commutation of Blagojevich’s sentence in a statement Tuesday.
“We believe he received an appropriate and fair sentence, which was the low-end of the federal sentencing guidelines for the gravity of his public corruption convictions,” Reps. Mike Bost, Darin LaHood, John Shimkus, Adam Kinzinger and Rodney Davis wrote in the statement. “Blagojevich is the face of public corruption in Illinois, and not once has he shown any remorse for his clear and documented record of egregious crimes that undermines the trust placed in him by voters. As our state continues to grapple with political corruption, we shouldn’t let those who breached the public trust off the hook. History will not judge Rod Blagojevich well.”