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  • Trump commutes Blagojevich's sentence

    President Donald Trump confirms he is freeing disgraced Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich from prison years early, calling his sentence "tremendously powerful" and "ridiculous."

    Quinn Dombrowski/Flickr

    From 2011

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    79彩票注册网址President Donald Trump confirmed today that he has commuted the prison sentence of Rod Blagojevich, the disgraced former governor of Illinois.

    ILLINOIS POLS REACT: Trump's timing 'couldn't have been worse'

    CRAIN'S DAILY GIST PODCAST: Why Trump is freeing Blago

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    79彩票注册网址The move trims six years off Blagojevich's prison sentence. Blagojevich has been serving a 14-year sentence at a federal prison in Colorado after being convicted of 18 felony corruption charges in 2011, including trying to sell the Senate seat that had been occupied by Barack Obama. 

    79彩票注册网址In remarks to reporters at midday, Trump called Blagojevich's sentence "a tremendously powerful, ridiculous sentence in my opinion."

    Trump had previously signaled that he might commute the sentence of the ex-governor and onetime "Celebrity Apprentice" contestant, most recently in August 201979彩票注册网址, when he told reporters aboard Air Force One that he thought Blagojevich "was treated unbelievably unfairly."

    Patti Blagojevich, the ex-governor's wife, has campaigned for the commutation, including direct appeals to the president on Fox News and elsewhere. In today's remarks, Trump said he had seen the governor's wife on television, and that was a factor in his decision.

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    79彩票注册网址 reaction was, as usual, swift:

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    Trump's decision to free Blagojevich was part of a set of clemencies and pardons announced on Tuesday, including financier Michael Milken who was convicted of securities fraud.

    Trump’s closest confidants had urged him to pardon Milken, the 1980s “junk bond king” who has unsuccessfully sought for decades to reverse his conviction.

    79彩票注册网址Trump also pardoned former New York City police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, who was sentenced to four years in prison for failure to pay taxes and lying to White House officials. The president pardoned Edward DeBartolo Jr., who owned the San Francisco 49ers football team for 23 years and pleaded guilty in 1998 to failing to report an alleged extortion attempt.

    79彩票注册网址Trump has relished the use of his clemency power, which is virtually unchecked by the Constitution. He has issued more than two dozen pardons and commutations since becoming president, many of which were awarded to political allies.

    The president sought to draw a connection between Blagojevich’s case and the federal investigation into alleged ties between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia. Trump calls that probe a “witch hunt.”

    Trump’s decision on Blagojevich comes almost two years after the Democratic ex-governor formally requested a commutation and sustained public appeals for mercy from his family.

    79彩票注册网址Trump has repeatedly criticized Blagojevich’s prison sentence and said he would consider using his clemency power to cut it short.

    Blagojevich, 63, was convicted in 2011 of 17 charges for what federal prosecutors said was a sweeping corruption plot that included an attempt to sell former President Barack Obama’s vacated U.S. Senate seat. The governor was impeached and removed from office in January 2009, about one month after he was arrested by FBI agents at his home.

    79彩票注册网址While Blagojevich is a Democrat, his wife has framed clemency as a way for the president to exact revenge for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, which Trump has repeatedly decried as a “hoax.”

    Former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who prosecuted Blagojevich’s case, is friends with former FBI Director James Comey and served as his personal lawyer. Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia stemmed from a probe begun under Comey’s watch.

    “This same cast of characters that did this to my family are out there trying to do it to the president,” Patti Blagojevich  in an April 2018 phone interview.

    79彩票注册网址Fitzgerald was also the special prosecutor who led the federal investigation into I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby,  in 2018 for lying to federal agents probing the leak of a CIA officer’s identity. Libby was former Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff.

    79彩票注册网址The White House has fielded multiple requests for Blagojevich’s clemency, including from well-known Democrats like civil rights leader Jesse Jackson,  to Trump last summer.

    But House Republicans had urged him not to offer clemency to Blagojevich. A group of GOP lawmakers representing Illinois wrote in a  that such a move would “set a detrimental precedent and send a damaging message on your efforts to root out public corruption in our government.

    Bloomberg contributed.

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