President Trump Commuted Sentence of Corrupt Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, But Why?

Posted: Feb 18, 2020 2:00 PM
President Trump Commuted Sentence of Corrupt Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, But Why?

Source: (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci

He was unanimously impeached and removed from office back in 2009. He was later sentenced to over 10 years in jail for corruption charges stemming from the vacancy of then-Sen. Barack Obama’s seat. He reportedly might have wanted some favors in exchange for recommendations, according to wiretaps. Blagojevich was one of three people who were either pardoned or commuted by Trump. Former NYPD Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik was pardoned, along with former 49ers Edward J. DeBartolo Jr. (via NYT):

President Trump has commuted the 14-year prison sentence of former Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois, the Democrat who was convicted of trying to essentially sell President Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat for personal gain, according to a person briefed on the decision.

Mr. Trump commuted the former governor’s sentence on Tuesday and is planning on announcing it soon, taking the action after saying for years that he was considering intervening in Mr. Blagojevich’s case.

By commuting the sentence, the president would free Mr. Blagojevich from prison without wiping out the conviction. Republicans have advised the president against it, arguing that Mr. Blagojevich’s crime epitomizes the corruption that Mr. Trump had said he wanted to tackle as president.

The president’s decision came the same day that he pardoned Edward J. DeBartolo Jr., a former owner of the San Francisco 49ers who pleaded guilty in 1998 to concealing an extortion attempt and eventually surrendered control of his team. 

But why? Does he have more dirt on Obama? What could it be? Was it this January op-ed, where he slammed House Democrats, saying they would’ve impeached Abraham Lincoln?

I, like most people from my home state of Illinois, am a great admirer of Abraham Lincoln. 

Recently I've wondered what would have happened had Nancy Pelosi been the Speaker of the House when Abraham Lincoln was president. 

Would Speaker Pelosi's House Democrats use the same flimsy impeachment standard they are currently using to impeach Honest Abe, one of the greatest presidents in the history of our country? 

In 1998 I was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives during the Clinton impeachment, and in 2009, as the 40th governor of Illinois, I had the unhappy experience of being impeached and removed from office.

Nevertheless, I offer this interesting and unique perspective about impeachment as I sit here in prison.

Consider the possibilities.

First, today's Democrats would have impeached Lincoln for obstruction of Congress and abuse of power when he unilaterally issued his Emancipation Proclamation.

Lincoln didn't ask Congress for permission when he declared an end to nearly 250 years of slavery and offered freedom to millions of slaves in the American South. He neither consulted Congress nor sought its consent before he acted.

In fact, at the time Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, the Democrats of that day opposed it.

Time will tell. For now, after serving seven years of a fourteen-year prison sentence, Blago could be leaving jail soon.