Rod Blagojevich: Donald Trump considers clemency for ex-IL gov; to pardon Dinesh D'Souza

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Is six years of a 14 year sentence enough for Illinois latest corrupt governor? President Trump says it is and he may intervene. (WLS)

More than six years after corrupt Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich walked into federal prison, President Donald Trump on Thursday suggested he may offer the Democrat a get-out-of-jail free card.

President Trump's comments came aboard Air Force One en route to appearances in Texas, bemoaning the 14-year sentence Blagojevich received, which Trump incorrectly stated as 18 years.

"Eighteen years is, I think, really unfair," Trump said, arguing Blagojevich was convicted "for being stupid and saying things that every other politician, you know, that many other politicians say."

Blagojevich, who is currently scheduled for release in 2024, could walk out of the Englewood federal prison in Colorado shortly after an official decision and announcement by the president that his sentence was being commuted to time served.

Look Back: Blagojevich reports to prison in 2012
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Look Back: Chuck Goudie's reporting on the day Rod Blagojevich reported to prison.



"I am seriously thinking about -- not pardoning -- but I am seriously thinking of a curtailment of Blagojevich," Trump said of the defrocked politician he hosted on his Celebrity Apprentice TV show in 2010.

Since the former governor's final appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was denied, his wife Patti Blagojevich has been publicly playing to the White House for clemency.

"Amy, Annie and I are very encouraged by the President's comments today" said Mrs. Blagojevich in a statement Thursday afternoon. "He's given us something that has been hard to come by recently...hope. From the beginning, we've eagerly awaited the day when Rod could come back home where he belongs, and we continue to pray our family will be made whole again soon."

Ex-governor Blagojevich's attorney Leonard Goodman also expressed optimism.

"Obviously, we are hopeful that Pres. Trump will Pardon Mr. Blagojevich, or commute the remainder of his sentence" said Goodman in a written statement also released Thursday afternoon. "Pres. Trump has the power to correct this injustice. Rod Blagojevich did not ever improperly enrich himself in office. He did not take gifts or loans from supporters. He followed the rules for campaign fundraising set out by the Supreme Court. He did not take a penny from his campaign fund for his personal benefit."

Blagojevich was convicted in the summer of 2011 on 17 counts of corruption and sentenced to a lengthy prison sentence by U.S. District Judge James Zagel. On Thursday, following news that President Trump may shorten that sentence, the I-Team asked for comment from the jurist who heard the cases.

"The Court and Judge Zagel do not believe it is appropriate to comment" said Chief Judge Ruben Castillo.

"It's time for Rod Blagojevich to come home to his wife and daughters," said Blagojevich's attorney.

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More than six years after corrupt Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich walked into federal prison, President Donald Trump on Thursday suggested he may offer the Democrat a get-out-of-



In the same conversation with reporters on Air Force One, the president said he is looking at pardoning businesswoman Martha Stewart. She was convicted in 2004 of obstructing justice and lying to the government about why she unloaded stock just before the price plummeted.

The possibility of pardoning or commuting the sentences of Stewart and Blagojevich, two former "Apprentice" series stars, came hours after he pardoned the conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza. Last week, Trump also pardoned the deceased boxer Jack Johnson.

Trump tweeted that he intends on giving a full pardon to D'Souza.

"Will be giving a Full Pardon to Dinesh D'Souza today. He was treated very unfairly by our government!" the tweet stated.

A federal court sentenced D'Souza in September 2014 to five years of probation after he admitted making illegal contributions to a U.S. Senate candidate in New York.

D'Souza made the documentary "2016: Obama's America" and entered the plea a week after the federal judge overseeing his case rejected his claim that he was selectively prosecuted.

FULL STATEMENT FROM LEONARD GOODMAN, ATTORNEY FOR ROD BLAGOJEVICH

"Obviously, we are hopeful that Pres. Trump will Pardon Mr. Blagojevich, or commute the remainder of his sentence. Pres. Trump has the power to correct this injustice. Rod Blagojevich did not ever improperly enrich himself in office. He did not take gifts or loans from supporters. He followed the rules for campaign fundraising set out by the Supreme Court. He did not take a penny from his campaign fund for his personal benefit. Blagojevich's priorities as governor benefitted ordinary Illinoisans and not special interests. He pushed through the All Kids insurance program which greatly expanded health care for children in Illinois, and another program that gave free rides on public transport to senior citizens. Yet Mr. Blagojevich was prosecuted anyway by a federal government that had determined to target him for removal from office early on during his first term as governor. Federal prosecutors used a cooperating informant to get a wiretap to record all of his conversations, then played selected excerpts at his trial to make him sound corrupt. They rewrote the law and told the jury to convict based on the governor's "belief" that there was a connection between political contributions and official acts. When that didn't work and the first jury failed to convict, the prosecutors again rewrote the jury instructions, telling the second jury to reject the governor's defense if he attempted any political deals in office, virtually assuring that he would be convicted. I am grateful that Pres. Trump understands the unfairness. It's time for Rod Blagojevich to come home to his wife and daughters."

Trump's full pardon to Dinesh D'Souza

D'Souza acknowledged that he had two close associates each contribute $10,000 to the Senate campaign of Wendy Long with the understanding that he would reimburse them. Long ended up losing the 2012 race to incumbent Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

The government said in court papers that D'Souza faced overwhelming evidence of guilt and "now seizes upon the fact that he is an outspoken critic of the Obama administration as an excuse to avoid the consequences of his actions."

D'Souza is a former policy analyst under President Ronald Reagan and a prolific author well known for works critical of former President Barack Obama. He retweeted Trump's tweet about the forthcoming pardon, but did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment sent to his media company, D'Souza Media.

Trump's announcement that he will pardon D'Souza follows the president's granting last week of a rare posthumous pardon to Jack Johnson, boxing's first black heavyweight champion. The pardon cleared Johnson's name more than 100 years after what many viewed as his racially charged conviction in 1913 for traveling with his white girlfriend.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Related Topics:
politicsrod blagojevichdonald trumpthe white houseu.s. & worldpoliticscorruptionI-TeamWashington D.C.
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