Trump Commutes Sentence of Rod Blagojevich, Pardons Bernard Kerik
- Author: Sonia Alvarado Feb 19, 2020,
Feb 19, 2020, 0:22
And he says he has pardoned former NYPD commissioner Bernie Kerik and granted clemency to financier Michael Milken.
Common Cause Illinois Executive Director Jay Young although "Blagojevich will get to walk free, Illinois is still being held prisoner to the consequences of his long record of corruption, bribery, and abuse of power".
The moves come just hours after it was announced that Trump granted clemency to former San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr. for his conviction more than two decades ago in a gambling fraud scandal.
Trump has made sympathetic comments about Blagojevich in the past, having said publicly multiple times that Blagojevich's sentence was unfair.
Former special counsel Robert Mueller - a subject of Mr Trump's derision - was the FBI director during the investigation into Blagojevich.
The White House confirmed Blagojevich's clemency grant in a statement and noted that there has been previous bipartisan support for the move, including from IL political heavyweights including Sen.
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"I watched his wife on television, I don't know him very well", Trump said, acknowledging that the former governor appeared on his show Celebrity Apprentice.
Trump first floated the idea of commuting Blagojevich's sentence in May 2018, after pardoning conservative filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza.
"It was a prosecution by the same people - Comey, Fitzpatrick - the same group", Trump said. As Mr Trump "fired" Blagojevich as a contestant, he praised him for how he was fighting his criminal case, telling him: "You have a hell of a lot of guts". To date, Blagojevich has served over seven years of his prison sentence.
Blagojevich was also convicted on six counts related to campaign contribution shakedowns, including one count which said he essentially tried to trade $8 million in added state funding to pediatric specialists for a $25,000 campaign donation from a hospital CEO.
But in 2011, another jury convicted him of 17 counts, including 10 of wire fraud and one count of soliciting bribes.
Blagojevich's sentence, calls it 'ridiculous'. Blagojevich appeared via live video from prison during the 2016 resentencing and asked for leniency. Court documents filed by his lawyers in 2016 portrayed Blagojevich - known as brash in his days as governor - as humble and self-effacing, as well as an insightful life coach and lecturer on everything from the Civil War to Richard Nixon.
For years, Blagojevich's family and allies have been attempting to persuade the White House to intervene in the case after exhausting all legal appeals. Blagojevich, an Elvis Presley fan, also formed a prison band called The Jailhouse Rockers.