President Donald Trump commuted the 14-year prison sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich Tuesday in what some are saying “sends the wrong message at the wrong time.”
But what led to up to this point? Here’s a look at Blagojevich’s political career and legal sag a:
Blagojevich begins a three-year stint as an Illinois state representative.
Blagojevich begins a six-year tenure in Congress.
Blagojevich, billing himself an anti-corruption candidate, wins the Illinois gubernatorial election.
Influential Republican Stuart Levine resigns from a powerful Illinois health board, marking the first public indication that the Blagojevich administration is under federal investigation.
In a letter, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald says he has witnesses to “very serious allegations of endemic hiring fraud” in the Blagojevich administration.
Antoin “Tony” Rezko, a top Blagojevich fundraiser, is indicted on federal charges of using his political influence to squeeze kickbacks from companies seeking to do business with the state. Businessman Stuart Levine pleads guilty to mail fraud and money laundering as part of the Rezko scheme and agrees to cooperate.
Nov. 7, 2006
Blagojevich is re-elected.
Dec. 9, 2007
Federal agents arrest Blagojevich on corruption charges at his Chicago home.
The Illinois House votes 114-1 to impeach Blagojevich, the first Illinois governor in history to be impeached. The Illinois Senate votes unanimously to remove Blagojevich from office.
April 2, 2009
Blagojevich formally is indicted with five co-defendants — his last chief of staff, John Harris; fundraiser Christopher Kelly; a former chief of staff, Lon Monk; Springfield power broker William F. Cellini; and his brother, Rob Blagojevich.
Aug. 16, 2010
After deliberating 14 days, a deadlocked jury reaches a verdict on just one count — lying to the FBI. Prosecutors immediately announce in court they will retry Blagojevich. Prosecutors later drop all charges against Rod Blagojevich’s co-defendant brother, Rob Blagojevich.
June 27, 2011
After nine days of deliberations, jurors find Blagojevich guilty of 18 counts, including allegations that he tried to sell or trade President Barack Obama’s old Senate seat. Jurors reached a not guilty verdict on one count and deadlocked on two others.
Blagojevich reports to Colorado prison to begin a 14-year sentence.
Blagojevich’s lawyers appeal his corruption convictions and prison term.
7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismisses just five of 18 counts and rules prosecutors did not prove Blagojevich broke the law when he tried to get a Cabinet position in President Barack Obama’s administration in exchange for trying to appoint Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett to Obama’s old U.S. Senate seat. Counts in which he sought contributions in exchange for a Senate seat appointment were upheld. Court says Blagojevich can be retried or resentenced on the counts that remain.
Aug. 9, 2016
After prosecutors decline to retry Blagojevich, trial Judge James Zagel resentences him on the 13 counts that still stand. Even with the reduced number of convictions, Zagel refuses to lower the original 14-year sentence.
Blagojevich submits a request to Obama to have his sentence commuted, but Obama does not act on the request before he leaves office in January 2017. Blagojevich again asks a U.S. appeals court to nullify his 14-year prison term and order a third sentencing hearing.
April 21, 2017
An appeals court in Chicago rejects the request from Blagojevich for another sentencing hearing.
May 31, 2018
President Donald Trump says he is thinking about clemency for Blagojevich and Martha Stewart. Both had connections to Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” reality television show.
April 16, 2018
The U.S. Supreme Court for the second time in two years refuses to hear Blagojevich’s appeal.
June 5, 2018
Blagojevich’s lawyers file paperwork with the Justice Department asking Trump to commute his sentence.
Aug. 8, 2019
Trump tweets that the White House is still reviewing the possibility of commuting Blagojevich’s sentence. Trump broaches the issue several times in proceeding months. But amid pushback from Republicans and Democrats, the prospects of a pardon appear to diminish.
Feb. 18, 2020
Trump commutes the 14-year prison sentence of Blagojevich, calling the sentence “ridiculous.”