Trump Considering Commuting Sentence Of Ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Pardoning Martha Stewart
Updated 4:30 p.m.
President Donald Trump says he is considering commuting the sentence of ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and pardoning Martha Stewart.
Talking to reporters aboard Air Force One on Thursday, Trump said Blagojevich is in prison for "being stupid and saying things that every other politician, you know that many other politicians say. ...
"If you read his statement, it was a foolish statement. There was a lot of bravado but it does not ... plenty of other politicians have said a lot worse. And it doesn't, he shouldn't have been put in jail. And he's a Democrat. He's not my party. But I thought that he was treated unfairly."
The comments came after Trump announced on Twitter that he planned to pardon conservative commentator Dinesh D'Souza, who pleaded guilty to campaign finance fraud. The White House announced later Thursday that the pardon had been granted.
Trump tells reporters that Blagojevich said something dumb but that "lots of politicians" do and thinks his sentence is excessive.
Rod Blagojevich’s brother, Robert Blagojevich, told WBEZ that he also agrees that the former governor deserves to be released.
“Rod served plenty of time for a guy, who I believe, was only guilty of stupid talk,” Robert Blagojevich said Thursday. “If you’re wiretapped for 50 days and surveilled for 50 days, and the FBI and the DOJ have an agenda against you, they’re going to find something against you.”
The Democratic former governor was convicted on numerous counts of corruption, including for trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat that was vacated by Obama and for shaking down a children's hospital. As governor, he had the right to name someone to fill the Senate vacancy, but he was caught on FBI wiretaps discussing ways to make money off of it. He began serving a 14-year prison sentence in 2012 and is scheduled for release in 2024.
Robert Blagojevich said that he’s hopeful about Trump’s remarks, but that if his brother’s sentence isn’t commuted, “it’s just more of the same.”
“It’s something that we’ve absorbed over time, but I remain costly optimistic with this president,” Robert Blagojevich said, “who has proven to be very unpredictable and do things that, to me, are very clear and commonsensical that defy political norms.”
Patti Blagojevich, the former governor's wife, said she and the couple's two children were "very encouraged" by Trump's comments. "He's given us something that has been hard to come by recently. Hope," she said in a written statement.
Blagojevich was facing charges when he was on Trump's reality TV show, "Celebrity Apprentice," in 2010. As Trump "fired" Blagojevich as a contestant, he also praised Blagojevich for how he was fighting his criminal case, telling him: "You have a hell of a lot of guts."
Stewart, who hosted the 2005 spinoff series, "The Apprentice: Martha Stewart," was convicted in 2004 of obstructing justice and lying to the government about why she unloaded stock just before the price plummeted.
Trump says she "used to be one of my biggest fans."
This is a breaking news story. Check back for more updates.