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.
Appearing Thursday night on Fox News, former first lady Patti Blagojevich pointedly suggested that president Trump may see in her husband---a kindred spirit.
“I see that the same people that did this to my family, the same people that secretly taped us and twisted the facts and perverted the law that ended up my husband in jail, these same people are trying to do the same thing they did to my husband, just on a much larger scale,” she said. “You know they were emboldened---they took down a governor and now they’re got their sights much higher!”
But those who were involved in the larger investigation stayed far from the Blagojevich bandwagon.
“The governor has conducted a very successful post-conviction campaign claim that he is the victim of an unfair judicial system,” said former assistant U.S. Attorney Randall Samborn. “That appears to resonate with the president. Unfortunately, that doesn’t hold up with his crimes, his conviction, and his sentence.”
Samborn suggested that a commutation of Blagojevich’s sentence would send the wrong message to fellow politicians.
“Judge Zagel said that his criminal conduct tore at the fabric of our society,” he noted. “What President Trump is talking about doing tears at the fabric of our criminal justice system.”
Trump told reporters earlier that 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 last week's 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.
About an hour before Trump's comments, Patti Blagojevich her plans to speak with Martha MacCallum Thursday night on Fox, a network Trump has openly said he's likely to watch.
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.”