UPDATE: On Feb. 18, 2020—the day of Trump’s commutation and when Blagojevich left his federal prison in Colorado and flew home to Chicago—the podcast team published a new episode. Listen now to it now: Update: Commuted.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump commuted what he described to CNN as the “ridiculous” 14-year prison sentence of former Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois, the Democrat who was convicted of trying to sell President Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat for personal gain.
Catch up on the story behind today’s news with Public Official A, a six-part podcast from WBEZ Chicago that uncovered the rise and fall of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. How he did whatever it took to reach the top. The trail of destruction left in his wake. And how the complexities, charisma, and tragic flaws of this public official resonate today.
Part 1: Spare The Rod (originally aired January 18, 2019)
Reporter Dave McKinney interviews the FBI agents who carried out the arrest of Gov. Rod Blagojevich at his home in Ravenswood Manor in the early morning hours of December 9, 2008.
Part 2: It’s A Family Business (originally aired February 1, 2019)
The relationship between Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his father-in-law, Alderman Dick Mell? It’s complicated.
Part 3: Rod Likes To Run (originally aired February 8, 2019)
Who is Rod Blagojevich? He was an incredible retail politician who knew how to work a room. But ultimately, his obsession with climbing the ladder brought him down.
Part 4: The Tapes (originally aired February 15, 2019)
The FBI recorded Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s phone calls for almost six weeks. What they heard shocked them.
Part 5: Treat Me Nice (originally aired February 22, 2019)
With almost everyone believing that he was guilty, Blagojevich fought back on national TV.
Part 6: I Talk Too Much (originally aired March 1, 2019)
The evidence is presented and President Donald Trump becomes ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s last hope.
Update: Commuted (published February 18, 2020)
He’d been teasing the idea for months. Then, on Feb. 18, 2020, it happened: President Donald Trump commuted Rod Blagojevich’s 14-year prison sentence.