Illinois Republicans are begging President Donald Trump not to let former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich out of prison early, saying it would send the wrong message about government corruption.
The chair of the state’s Republican Party said in a statement that ‘corrupt, machine-style politics is still all too common,’ and the disgraced Democrat should stay behind bars for for the entirety of his 14-year sentence.
CNN reports that Republican lawmakers from Illinois, Reps. Darin LaHood and Mike Bost, have lobbied Trump to keep Blagojevich, who once competed on Celebrity Apprentice, in jail, as well.
Presidential adviser Jared Kushner, a top advocate within the administration of prison reform, has supported Blagojevich’s release, although an official familiar with the conversations said he’s not pushing Trump to let him out.
Trump has been toying with a commutation for Blagojevich for more than a year.
The president told reporters in May of 2018 that he ‘what he did does not justify’ the prison sentence that he received. Trump said he was considering a ‘curtailment’ that would allow him to return home to his family.
Nothing ever came of the announcement, and it had mostly fallen off the radar. That is until Trump told journalists last Wednesday who were riding with him on Air Force One that a commutation was under serious consideration.
‘I thought he was treated unbelievably unfairly,’ Trump said. ‘I am thinking about commuting his sentence.’
He said in a subsequent tweet: ‘White House staff is continuing the review of this matter.’
The Illinois Senate removed the Democratic from office in January of 2009, cutting short his tenure. He was on his second term as governor at the time.
Three years later, Blagojevich was convicted of wire fraud charges, extortion and soliciting bribes. He started serving a 14-year term in 2012.
A White House official told DailyMail.com on Tuesday that a pardon is not and was never on the table for the Democrat.
However, the president is ‘very familiar with the facts of the case’ and is sensitive to the fact that for almost eight years, Blagojevich’s family has rarely been able to see him.
Trump will commute his sentence if he decides the ‘case merits it’ and not because of internal lobbing efforts, the person said of Kushner’s role in the process.
‘The president doesn’t need much encouragement on this. The president is the one who knows the guy. The president is in the lead here,’ the official said, referring to Blagojevich’s appearance on The Celebrity Apprentice.
‘Ultimately the president will do it, because he wants to do it,’ the person familiar with the conversations said. ‘It’s not a function of staff.’
Blagojevich competed on the reality TV show that Trump was the star and host of in the spring of 2010, after he’d been removed from office on allegations of corruption.
He was the fourth contestant to be fired by Trump in April of that season.
Trump has primarily granted high-profile pardons conservatives, and Blagojevich would be the first well-known Democrat in his administration to receive clemency.
He told reporters last week on Air Force One that politics weren’t the basis of the consideration, saying, ‘I think it´s enough, seven years.’
‘Not a friend of mine. He´s a Democrat, not a Republican. It´s Illinois. I think he was treated very very unfairly, just as others were,’ the president stated.
Bost and other lawmakers attempting to change the president’s mind.
One of the state lawmakers at the time who fought to to get Blagojevich out of office, Bost told CNN, ‘Those charges were so outrageously bad.’
The Illinois Republican said that Trump told him, after learning more details about Blagojevich’s crimes, ‘I wish I had the perspective before.’