Donald Trump

Trump Commutes Ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's Sentence

The move comes after months of speculation following Trump's repeated comments that he was considering commuting the sentence

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Imprisoned ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's sentence has been commuted.

After months of speculation, President Donald Trump announced the decision as he prepared to board Air Force One Tuesday.

“Yes, we commuted the sentence of Rod Blagojevich," Trump said. "He served eight years in jail, a long time. He seems like a very nice person - don’t know him.” 

Trump cited Blagojevich's family as part of the reason for his decision.

"[His daughters are] getting into high school and they rarely get to see their father outside of an orange uniform," Trump said. "I saw that and I did commute the sentence so he’ll be able to go back home with his family after serving eight years in jail.”

Trump also pardoned Edward DeBartolo Jr., the former San Francisco 49ers owner convicted in a gambling fraud scandal, and Bernard Kerik, the former NYPD commissioner who later went to federal prison for tax fraud and lying to the government.

Trump had previously said he believed Blagojevich's sentence on political corruption charges was "really unfair," but did not include Blagojevich in past pardons and commutations.

In August, the president told reporters he was thinking about "commuting his sentence very strongly." 

Before Rod Blagojevich entered prison more than seven years ago, NBC 5’s Phil Rogers interviewed the former Illinois governor over lunch near the prison.

At the time, the president said he believes Blagojevich was “harshly sentenced,” and that he wanted to gauge the feelings of members of both parties about a possible commutation.

In October, he polled donors about the move during a visit to Chicago.

“We’re looking at it,” he said. “I feel very badly. I think he was very harshly sentenced, but we’re looking at it very strongly. People feel very strongly about that. I floated it and I wanted to see where the Democrats stood, where the Republicans stood. People feel very strongly about Rod Blagojevich’s sentence. He’s been in there for seven and a half years. That’s a long time and what he did was terrible, but it’s a long time.”

Ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich appeared on “The Celebrity Apprentice” in 2010 but didn’t make it to the winner’s circle. Watch as now-President Donald Trump delivered the bad news to Blagojevich.

Blagojevich has served more than seven years of a 14-year prison sentence after he was convicted of trying to sell the Senate seat of then-President-Elect Barack Obama. The former governor has gone through numerous potential appeals and his wife Patti has appealed directly to the president in interviews on Fox News.

Timeline: The Legal Roller-Coaster Ride of Rod Blagojevich

The possibility of a commutation drew criticism from members of both political parties, with numerous prominent Democrats and Republicans opposing the move. Even still, others are in support of ending the former governor’s sentence, including the Reverend Jesse Jackson and Representative Bobby Rush.

Blagojevich is prevented from holding public office in the state of Illinois as a result of his removal from office.

In 2017, Rod Blagojevich broke his silence for the first time since entering prison in an exclusive interview with NBC 5’s Phil Rogers. 

"I couldn’t be happier to reunite him with his family - his two girls, and Patti -  who have been waiting way too long," said attorney Sam Adam Jr., who represented Blagojevich. "I could not be happier. The fact that President Trump did this, it makes my Christmas in February."

Blagojevich's brother, Robert Blagojevich, said he's "grateful" to the president.

"He is the ultimate disrupter," he told NBC Chicago.

Though the two brothers haven't spoken in years, Robert Blagojevich said he's hopeful for the future.

"Nothing has changed. I love my brother very much. I hope one day we will be reunited," he said.

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