ILLINOIS (NEXSTAR) — Several top aides to President Trump say he is prepared to commute the 14-year prison sentence of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, according to multiple news outlets, including the New York Times.
President Trump has publicly deliberated about whether or not to let Blagojevich out of jail since at least 2018. The former governor’s wife, Patti Blagojevich, has lobbied the president’s support on social media and on cable news channels. During the heat of the impeachment proceedings, Blagojevich himself wrote an op-ed from behind bars arguing that Democrats would have impeached Abraham Lincoln.
The coordinated media strategy appeared tailored to appeal to President Trump’s own self-interest. One of Blagojevich’s 17 corruption charges was for shaking down a children’s hospital, and threatening to withhold state aid in exchange for a campaign contribution. Even though Blagojevich never received the campaign donation, he was still convicted for using his public perch to advance his own personal political interests.
Comptroller Susana Mendoza compared Blagojevich’s corruption to President Trump’s call with the President of Ukraine where he sought an investigation into “the Bidens,” a reference to Hunter Biden and former Vice President Joe Biden, one of his political opponents. In a December op-ed, Mendoza wrote of the White House blocking military aid to the embattled nation, “That’s extortion — as clear and simple as it was with Blagojevich holding up money for doctors at a children’s hospital. Or you could call it ‘abuse of power,’ as it’s described in the articles of impeachment.”
Current Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat who was close to Blagojevich while he was in office, has said the disgraced governor is “in jail where he belongs,” and said he should not be allowed an early release. All five Illinois Republicans in Congress have also pressured President Trump not to commute the Democrat’s prison sentence.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.