* I’ll believe it when I see it because the president came pretty close to commutation months ago and was talked out of it by the Illinois GOP delegation…
* The Question: Do you support or oppose a presidential commutation for Rod Blagojevich? Please make sure to explain your position.
*** UPDATE 1 *** Some initial react…
*** UPDATE 2 *** NY Times says it’s a done deal…
President Trump has commuted the 14-year prison sentence of former Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois, the Democrat who was convicted of trying to essentially sell President Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat for personal gain, according to a person briefed on the decision.
Mr. Trump commuted the former governor’s sentence on Tuesday and is planning on announcing it soon, taking the action after saying for years that he was considering intervening in Mr. Blagojevich’s case.
By commuting the sentence, the president would free Mr. Blagojevich from prison without wiping out the conviction. Republicans have advised the president against it, arguing that Mr. Blagojevich’s crime epitomizes the corruption that Mr. Trump had said he wanted to tackle as president.
*** UPDATE 3 *** The president confirms…
…Adding… Common Cause Illinois Executive Director Jay Young…
While former Governor Rod Blagojevich will get to walk free, Illinois is still being held prisoner to the consequences of his long record of corruption, bribery, and abuse of power. President Trump’s commutation of Blagojevich’s sentence is the latest action by a lawless president to undermine ethics and accountability in our government. This decision is wrong and deprives the people of Illinois the justice they deserve. After consistently ignoring our nation’s ethics norms and laws for the last three years, President Trump has now chosen to side with the long line of Illinois politicians that have been imprisoned or had their careers ended due to corruption.
…Adding… Comptroller Mendoza…
No surprise. Birds of a feather flock together.
*** UPDATE 4 *** Gov. Pritzker…
Illinoisans have endured far too much corruption, and we must send a message to politicians that corrupt practices will no longer be tolerated. President Trump has abused his pardon power in inexplicable ways to reward his friends and condone corruption, and I deeply believe this pardon sends the wrong message at the wrong time. I’m committed to continuing to take clear and decisive steps this spring to prevent politicians from using their offices for personal gain, and I will continue to approach this work with that firm conviction.
*** UPDATE 5 *** Press release…
STATEMENT OF FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTION TRIAL TEAM AND FORMER UNITED STATES ATTORNEY REGARDING PRESIDENTIAL COMMUTATION IN U.S. V. BLAGOJEVICH
Reid J. Schar
Hon. Carrie E. Hamilton
Patrick J. Fitzgerald
CHICAGO ― The following statement was issued today regarding the President’s commutation of the sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich:
“Although the President has exercised his lawful authority to commute the remaining portion of Mr. Blagojevich’s prison sentence, Mr. Blagojevich remains a felon, convicted of multiple serious acts of corruption as governor. The criminal conduct for which a jury unanimously convicted Mr. Blagojevich included the following actions:
(1) extorting the CEO of a children’s hospital by withholding important state funding to help sick children until the CEO provided campaign contributions;
(2) extorting the owners of a racetrack by intentionally holding up the signing of important state legislation until the owners provided campaign contributions in response to an explicit demand for them;
(3) extortionately demanding funding for a high-paying private sector job, as well as campaign contributions, in exchange for naming a replacement to an open U.S. Senate seat; and
(4) lying to the FBI to cover up his criminal activity.
The law and extensive facts underlying Mr. Blagojevich’s conviction were reviewed by independent judges on an appellate court and by the Supreme Court of the United States. These courts affirmed Mr. Blagojevich’s conviction and sentence, and the appellate court described the evidence against him as “overwhelming.”
Extortion by a public official is a very serious crime, routinely prosecuted throughout the United States whenever, as here, it can be detected and proven. That has to be the case in America: a justice system must hold public officials accountable for corruption. It would be unfair to their victims and the public to do otherwise.
While the President has the power to reduce Mr. Blagojevich’s sentence, the fact remains that the former governor was convicted of very serious crimes. His prosecution serves as proof that elected officials who betray those they are elected to serve will be held to account.”
Mr. Schar, Mr. Niewoehner, and Judge Hamilton are former Assistant United States Attorneys in Chicago who represented the government at trial in U.S.A. v. Blagojevich. Mr. Fitzgerald was the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois during the investigation and prosecution of Mr. Blagojevich. This statement is issued in their individual capacities.
…Adding… Jason Gerwig with Leader Brady’s office…
Leader Brady believes the sentence former Governor Rod Blagojevich received was justified and should have been served in its entirety.
*** UPDATE 6 *** Press release…
Congressmen Darin LaHood (IL-18), John Shimkus (IL-15), Adam Kinzinger (IL-16), Rodney Davis (IL-13), and Mike Bost (IL-12) released the following statement after the President commuted the sentence of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.
“We are disappointed by the President’s commutation of Rod Blagojevich’s federal sentence. We believe he received an appropriate and fair sentence, which was the low-end of the federal sentencing guidelines for the gravity of his public corruption convictions. Blagojevich is the face of public corruption in Illinois, and not once has he shown any remorse for his clear and documented record of egregious crimes that undermined the trust placed in him by voters. As our state continues to grapple with political corruption, we shouldn’t let those who breached the public trust off the hook. History will not judge Rod Blagojevich well.”
*** UPDATE 7 *** Sen. Durbin has said he would support commutation for Blagojevich. But here’s what he said on commutation day…
U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today released the following statement after President Donald Trump commuted the 14-year prison sentence of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich:
“Former Governor Blagojevich betrayed the people of Illinois and engaged in a pattern of corrupt behavior for which he was held accountable and which cost him more than seven years of freedom.
“At a time when corruption by elected officials is still in the headlines, Illinois and Washington should move quickly to establish stricter ethics requirements, including the full detailed disclosure of income, net worth, and income tax returns by all elected officials.”
…Adding… From a Durbin spokesperson…
Senator Durbin has never lobbied any President to commute former Governor Blagojevich’s sentence.
…Adding… Press release…
Statement from Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs on President Donald Trump Granting Clemency to Former Governor Rod Blagojevich
“Eleven years ago, I voted to convict and remove a member of my own party who abused his office to further his own re‑election.
I wish that Republicans in the U.S. House and Senate had shown similar courage when a leader in their party abused his office to further his own re-election.
If that had happened, we would not be dealing with this today.
It is some comfort, however, that my motion to bar our former governor from ever holding public office again means he will no longer be able to abuse the public trust.”