What to Know
- Trump suggested he was more interested in “curtailing his sentence” than a full pardon.
- The president is familiar with Blagojevich, who was once a contestant on “Celebrity Apprentice.”
- The U.S. Supreme Court announced last month they would not hear Blagojevich's appeal. Blago is in the 7th year of a 14-year sentence.
Attorneys for former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich have reportedly filed a petition asking President Donald Trump to commute the sentence of the imprisoned politician.
The request for executive clemency, first reported by the Chicago Tribune, was filed with the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of the Pardon Attorney Tuesday, attorneys confirmed.
The petition follows Trump's comments last week that he is considering “curtailing" Blagojevich's 14-year sentence on political corruption charges.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked about the comments during Tuesday's briefing, but said the president "hasn't made a final decision on that."
Trump said he was "seriously thinking about" commuting the sentence of Blagojevich, who was once a contestant on Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice" while awaiting trial. He added that he was also considering a pardon for Martha Stewart, who was prosecuted by James Comey and convicted in 2004 of obstructing justice and lying to the government.
Trump told reporters Blagojevich had said something “stupid” but that it was similar to what other politicians have said. He called the 18-year sentence “really unfair.”
"Plenty of other politicians have said a lot worse," Trump said. "And it doesn’t... he shouldn’t have been put in jail."
He suggested he was more interested in “curtailing his sentence” than a full pardon.
"And he’s a Democrat. He’s not my party. But I thought that he was treated unfairly," Trump said.
The news comes after the rare posthumous pardon to Jack Johnson, boxing's first black heavyweight champion. News also broke Thursday that Trump planned to pardon conservative commentator Dinesh D'Souza, who pleaded guilty to campaign finance fraud.
"Obviously, we are hopeful that Pres. Trump will do something for Blagojevich," attorney Leonard Goodman. "He has the power to correct this injustice. 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 he was prosecuted anyway by a federal government that had determined to target Blagojevich for removal from office early on during his first term as governor."
He added that "Trump understands the unfairness" and "it’s time for Rod Blagojevich to come home to his wife and daughters."
Patti Blagojevich said she and her family were "encouraged" by the president's comments.
"He’s given us something that has been hard to come by recently…hope," she wrote just moments after Trump's statements made headlines. "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.”
The United States Supreme Court announced last month they would not hear Blagojevich's appeal. The former governor is in his 7th year of a 14-year sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in suburban Denver.
It was a devastating blow to Blagojevich, his family, and legal team, who had hoped they would get good news when the court released its order list. Instead, the Blagojevich case merely appeared on the list under the caption “Certiorari denied,” meaning the court would not consider the case.
“Rod, Amy, Annie and I could not be more disappointed in the decision today by the U.S. Supreme Court," Patti Blagojevich told NBC 5 at the time. "From the beginning we’ve had faith in the system and have felt the court would bring Rod back to us. Now, with the judiciary no longer an option, we’ll have to put our faith elsewhere and find another way."
The President is familiar with Blagojevich following his “Celebrity Apprentice” appearance.
“The president knows Rod, he was on his show,” Patti Blagojevich told NBC5 last month. “He said nice things to him when he was on the show, he’s spoken favorably about Rod subsequent to that. So I think that, of any of our recent presidents we probably have the best shot with President Trump because he does have that relationship with Rod.”
Check back for more on this developing story.