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.
Former first lady Patti Blagojevich expressed shock Friday, that the man who headed the Justice Department when her husband was prosecuted, now says his sentence was too stiff.
Asked Friday morning about potential pardons and commutations which might be made by President Trump, Former Attorney General Eric Holder said he believed Blagojevich’s sentence was too severe.
“Blagojevich, I’m not so sure,” he said. “If what you did was to reduce that sentence---I thought the 14 year sentence was a little harsh, and that was a case brought when I was the attorney general.”
“I thought that sentence was a little harsh, and if that sentence was reduced, that would be consistent with what we did in the Obama administration---we looked at that vast number of people who, in the war on drugs, were arrested, convicted, and who should have gone to jail, but didn’t deserve to be in jail for 20 years, 30 years, or life!”
When she heard those words, Patti Blagojevich was taken aback.
“It was his office that prosecuted him,” she told NBC5. “So where was he then?”
Although Blagojevich was arrested during the Obama transition, the former first lady noted it was Holder’s Justice Department which pursued her husband through two criminal trials.
“It was his office that fought against our appeal of the 14 year sentence---twice,” she said. “His office fought for that long sentence!”
Indeed, President Obama had an opportunity to shorten Blagojevich’s sentence, but took no action on his previous petition for clemency.
While Holder said he was not opposed to shortening the Blagojevich sentence, he said he had other thoughts on the President’s overall pardon strategy.
“I’m a little concerned about what’s going on now, where I think the president is trying to send a message to some people who potentially might be involved in the Russia investigation,” he said. “Very few of these people would be considered good candidates for pardons.”
Holder told an audience at St. Anselm College Friday morning, that he believes any potential pardons will not have an adverse effect on the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in American elections.
“If Bob Mueller wants to take a pardoned person, put that person before a grand jury, that person no longer has the right to say ‘I’m going to invoke my fifth amendment right,’” he noted. “That’s been stripped away---you have a pardon!”