It's been a tumultuous, decade-long ride for former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, and it appears to have come to an end, as President Donald Trump was reportedly "close" to commuting the former governor's sentence on Feb. 18, 2020.
Here is a recap of the saga involving the former governor, who was sentenced to 14 years in prison for trying to "sell" the Senate seat of Barack Obama before he ascended to the presidency.
Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich (L) addresses the media while wife Patti Blagojevich holds back tears at the Dirksen Federal Building December 7, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in prison after he was found guilty of 17 public corruption charges.
Calling it a “corruption crime spree,” U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald announced that he would pursue corruption charges against Blagojevich after the governor was caught on court-authorized wire taps trying
to solicit contributions and other favors in exchange for the Senate seat of then president-elect Barack Obama.
In a unanimous 59-0 vote, the Illinois Senate voted to remove Blagojevich from office and installed Pat Quinn as the state’s 41st governor.
The former governor was
found guilty on one count of making false statements, but a mistrial was declared on 23 other counts in the indictment against him.
In the governor’s re-trial, he was
found guilty on 17 counts, including wire fraud and attempted extortion.
The former governor’s sentence came down about six months later, when he was
sentenced to 14 years in a federal prison.
After years of legal wrangling and appeals,
Blagojevich reported to a federal prison in Colorado to begin serving a 14-year sentence.
A judge upheld Blagojevich’s sentence, saying that the “fault lies with the governor and no one else” for his punishment.
On his final full day in office, the former president issued numerous commutations and pardons,
but did not include the former Illinois governor who was convicted of trying to benefit from his ability to appoint a successor to Obama's Senate seat.
“I take it one day at a time,” the former governor told Phil Rogers, saying that his prime focus after five years in prison was staying strong for his two daughters.
“Certiorari denied.” With two simple words, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal of the former governor’s conviction and sentence.
AP Images, Files
“Plenty of other politicians could have said a lot worse,” the president told reporters aboard Air Force One as he revealed he was considering
“curtailing” the sentence of the former governor. The news came on the same day the president pardoned filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza, and also said he was considering a pardon of TV personality Martha Stewart.
President Donald Trump made his strongest statement yet on the matter, telling reporters aboard Air Force One that he is seriously considering commuting the former governor’s sentence. "I'm thinking about commuting his sentence very strongly," the president told reporters. "He's been in jail for seven years over a phone call where nothing happens, over a phone call which he shouldn't have said what he said, but it was braggadocio, you would say."
On Feb. 18, 2020, it was <a href="https://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/chicago-politics/trump-expected-to-commute-ex-illinois-gov-rod-blagojevichs-sentence-nyt/2221258/"> reported by ABC News and the New York Times </a> that President Trump was expected to commute Blagojevich's sentence. The former governor had served nearly eight years of his 14-year sentence at the time of his commutation.