What to Know
- Trump suggested he was more interested in “curtailing [Blago's] 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.
The White House has put together pardoning paperwork for dozens of people for President Donald Trump to consider, an official told NBC News Wednesday.
Information on the names or categories of offenses of the potential pardons, first reported by CNN, were not immediately released and it remained unclear if the president would move ahead with any or all of them, the White House official said.
The news comes one day after attorneys for former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich filed a petition asking Trump to commute the sentence of the imprisoned politician.
The request for executive clemency was filed with the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of the Pardon Attorney Tuesday, attorneys confirmed.
Last week, Trump said he was 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.
Reality TV star Kim Kardashian West has also been urging the president to pardon Alice Marie Johnson, 63, who is serving a life sentence for drug offenses.
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 said at the time. "He has the power to correct this injustice."
Goodman 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.
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.