Donald Trump is once again thinking about commuting the sentence of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, Trump told reporters on Air Force One Wednesday. The Democrat and onetime Celebrity Apprentice contestant is in the middle of a 14-year sentence for corruption.
“I thought he was treated unbelievably unfairly,” Trump said. “And a lot of people thought it was unfair, like a lot of other things. I think it’s enough, seven years.”
Blagojevich was convicted in 2010 on charges related to his attempt to profit off the Senate seat vacated by then-president-elect Barack Obama. In 2009, he was impeached and removed from office after federal investigators accused him of corruption. Among the evidence against him was a wiretap recording of Blagojevich saying, in reference to the Illinois Senate seat that he had the power to fill, “I’ve got this thing, and it’s fucking golden. I’m just not giving it up for fucking nothing.”
In between his impeachment and his conviction, Blagojevich appeared on season nine of the The Celebrity Apprentice, alongside such luminaries as Bret Michaels and Sinbad. Though he was pained to do it, Trump fired Blagojevich for failing a task related to Harry Potter.
Trump has been considering a commutation of Blagojevich’s sentence for at least a year. In May of 2018, he told reporters that the former governor’s sentence was too long and he was considering letting him out of prison.
“I thought that he was treated unfairly for being stupid and saying things that every other politician, that many other politicians say,” Trump said at the time.
Trump’s 2018 comments came just days after Blagojevich published a Wall Street Journal op-ed in which he argued that he had done nothing wrong in relation to the vacated Illinois Senate seat.
Let me be clear: I never accepted gifts, vacations, clothes, jewelry or flights on fancy jets in exchange for my political influence. Whenever I went to a Chicago Cubs game, I paid for my own tickets. Yet here I am in my sixth year of a 14-year prison sentence for the routine practice of attempting to raise campaign funds while governor.
Why is Trump bringing this up again? The Times says it has to do with Jared Kushner, who reportedly encouraged Trump to make the move because “it would appeal to Democrats.”