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After floating idea, Trump says he's still reviewing commutation for Blagojevich

Rick Pearson, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Political News

CHICAGO -- President Donald Trump said Thursday he is still reviewing a possible commutation of disgraced former Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich's prison term on federal corruption charges despite opposition from Illinois congressional Republicans.

"We're looking at it. I feel very badly. I think he was very harshly sentenced, but we're looking at it very strongly. People feel very strongly about that," the Republican president told reporters in New Jersey before boarding Air Force One for a rally in New Hampshire.

After Trump first broached the idea last week, Illinois' five-member Republican congressional delegation issued a statement opposing the idea.

"I floated it and I wanted to see where the Democrats stood, where the Republicans stood. People feel very strongly about Rod Blagojevich and his sentence," Trump said Thursday, mispronouncing the former governor's name as "Blah-goy-ya-vik."

"He's been in there for seven and a half years. That's a long time. And what he did was terrible. But it's a long time, it's a long time."

Blagojevich began serving a 14-year sentence in the Federal Correctional Institution in Englewood, Colo., on March 2012 on charges that included attempting to profit or obtain a favorable position in exchange for selling the U.S. Senate seat of then-President-elect Barack Obama.

 

Blagojevich also was convicted of attempting to extort a children's hospital executive and the horse racing industry for campaign contributions in exchange for official action in office.

It was little more than a week ago that Trump raised the potential of commuting Blagojevich's sentence in speaking to reporters on Air Force One en route to Washington from a trip to El Paso, Texas. Trump said he was "very strongly" considering issuing a commutation. He cast blame for what happened to Blagojevich on former FBI Director James Comey "and all these sleazebags that did it."

His comments were similar to those he made almost a year earlier regarding the disgraced former governor.

Following Trump's comments last week, at least two members of the state's GOP congressional delegation contacted the White House and Trump to personally register their opposition -- U.S. Reps. Darin LaHood and Mike Bost.

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