WASHINGTON —Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has been released from prison.
According to the federal prison officials, Blagojevich was released Tuesday night.
Earlier Tuesday, President Donald Trump announced he commuted Blagojevich's 14-year prison sentence.
Trump told reporters the former governor's sentence was “ridiculous.”
Blagojevich was convicted of political corruption just months after he appeared on Trump’s reality TV show, “Celebrity Apprentice."
Tuesday night, he arrived at O'Hare and then reunited with his family at his Ravenswood home. A press conference is scheduled for Wednesday at 11 a.m.
In August, Trump said he was seriously considering commuting Blagojevich’s 14-year sentence, calling it unbelievably unfair. After several months, the president has made his move.
Rod Blagojevich, the former Governor of Illinois, was sentenced to 14 years in prison. He has served 7 years. Many people have asked that I study the possibility of commuting his sentence in that it was a very severe one. White House staff is continuing the review of this matter.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 8, 2019
Trump has publicly dangled the possibility of commuting Blagojevich's sentence multiple times in the past. He voiced sympathy for Blagojevich back in 2018. The former Illinois governor filed paperwork to formally request clemency from Trump in June of that year.
The 63-year-old Democrat exhausted his last appellate option in 2018 and had seemed destined to remain behind bars until his projected 2024 release date. His wife, Patti, went on a media blitz in 2018 to encourage Trump to step in, praising the president and likening the investigation of her husband to special prosecutor Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election — a probe Trump long characterized as a “witchhunt.”
Blagojevich was impeached and removed from office after being convicted in 2011. He had been found guilty of crimes that included seeking to sell an appointment to Barack Obama's old Senate seat and trying to shake down a children's hospital.
He has served more than half of his 14-year sentence in a Colorado prison.
Blagojevich’s conviction was notable, even in a state where four of the last 10 governors have gone to prison for corruption. Judge James Zagel — who sentenced Blagojevich to the longest prison term yet for an Illinois politician — said when a governor “goes bad, the fabric of Illinois is torn and disfigured."
Blagojevich and Patti, have two daughters, Amy and Anne.
WGN obtained a letter sent from Chicago FOP Lodge 7 to President Trump on Jan. 24. In it, FOP President Kevin Graham and Second Vice President Martin Prieb stated that they think Blagojevich has "paid for his crimes."
Read the full letter below.
We, Kevin Graham and Martin Preib of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 in Chicago, are writing this letter to express our support for the commutation of the prison sentence of former Governor Rod Blagojevich.
We send this letter with a spirit of gratitude for how your administration has supported the police nationally and, in particular, Chicago. The support we received, for example, by the Department of Justice under your administration opposing the consent decree foisted upon our members by local officials was a sign of your courage to do what is right in supporting law and order.
We are therefore hopeful you will find our support for the release of former Governor Blagojevich compelling. While Mr. Blagojevich’s conviction for corruption is a serious crime, his punishment has been, in our opinion, excessive. Corruption in the governor’s office is nothing new, but overwhelming evidence against other governors for similar wrongdoing has not met with anything close to the punishment meted out to Mr. Blagojevich. Indeed, former Governor George Ryan was sent to prison on a 21-count felony conviction of a much more serious nature but received a sentence not nearly as harsh as Mr. Blagojevich’s. Additionally, the evidence of misconduct against former governors Ryan and Pat Quinn in the release of convicted killers on the claim of wrongful conviction cries out for a larger investigation into potential corruption, but the media and political machinery of the city and state refuse to initiate such an investigation.
We therefore urge you to commute the sentence of Mr. Blagojevich and restore him to his home and family. We believe he has paid for his crimes.
Thank you for your consideration in this matter and thank you once again for your continued support of police officers all across the country.