After leaving prison Tuesday, former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich expressed his “everlasting gratitude” to President Trump who pardons his 14-year corruption sentence.Embed from Getty Images
Blagojevich, who served eight years behind bars in Colorado, jokingly called himself a “Trumpocrat,” saying the president “saw a wrong and corrected it.”
Trump said the punishment imposed on the Chicago Democrat and one-time contestant on Trump’s reality TV show “Celebrity Apprentice” was excessive. “So he’ll be able to go back home with his family,” he said. “That was a tremendously powerful, ridiculous sentence in my opinion and in the opinion of many others.”
Blagojevich was convicted in his second trial in 2011 on 18 counts, including trying to sell former President Obama’s old Senate seat. His first trial ended with the jury unable to reach a verdict, except for a single conviction, for lying to the FBI.
More Insight on Why Trump Pardons the Governor
“I didn’t do the things they said I did and they lied on me,” Blagojevich told Chicago’s WGN-TV as he walked through O’Hare airport shaking the hands of travelers who welcomed him home.
As he exited the airport doors he was rushed by media and supporters, signing a few autographs before getting into a white SUV and speeding out of the airport toward his Ravenswood home. There he was rushed through a crowd of journalists and supporters to his front door. He said he was happy to be home with his wife and children before disappearing into the house.
Blagojevich said he would have more to say in a Wednesday news conference.
Trump expressed some sympathy for Blagojevich when he appeared on “Celebrity Apprentice” in 2010, before his first corruption trial started. When 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.”
Blagojevich testified during his trial, calling himself a flawed dreamer grounded in his parents’ working-class values. He said the hours of FBI recordings were the ramblings of a politician who liked to think out loud.
Thoughts of an Experienced Prison Consultant
“I am in support for more use of the Presidential Pardon to release deserving inmates from both federal and state prisons. It is one of the five programs that a federal inmate has to reduce his time in federal prison along with the Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP), the Second Chance Act, the First Step Act, and the Compassionate Release Program and we assist inmates and families with all five.
“It should also be used more in state prisons and the Governors of the states should use the Pardon as a sentence reduction tool to release deserving state inmates from incarceration.
“Many inmates have paid their price to society and been grossly over sentenced for the crimes they have committed. They deserve a chance to get back into society.”Michael Frantz, Jail Time Consulting, 954-740-2253