CHICAGO — On Thursday, Illinois braced for the possibility if former Gov. Rod Blagojevich will be set free. Some state and local political leaders said they’re not pleased.
“The governor disgraced his office,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said. “He is one of the few governors in the history of the country that’s been impeached.”
Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker was not sympathetic and said he should remain in prison.
In a statement, Senate President John Cullerton said the following:
“With a unanimous vote, the Illinois Senate removed him from office and barred him from ever serving here again, and there’s not a damn thing Donald Trump can do about that.”
Following a visit to communities rocked by gun violence, overnight, the president changed topics.
“We’re going to be doing something very, I think, very impactful,” President Donald Trump told reporters. “A man who is a Democrat, not a Republican, who I don’t know very well, but he was on The Apprentice. I’m thinking about commuting his sentence very strongly. I think he was, I think it’s enough: seven years.”
The Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin questioned Trump’s timing.
“The only thing that comes to my mind is that he’s using this more for politics rather than challenging the integrity of the prosecution,” Durkin said.
Blagojevich is serving a 14-year prison term for attempting to sell former President Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat and fundraising shakedowns.
It’s been a long road for Blagojevich and his family. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the former governor’s appeal.
In 2016, an appeals court ordered a resentencing after a judge struck down five of Blagojevich’s convictions.
Blagojevich appeared in court via video link and asked for mercy, telling the court: “Im sorry.”
However, the judge said Blagojevich was aware of his illegal conduct.
“We find his sentence unusually cruel and heartless and unfair,” Patti Blagojevich, the former governor’s wife, said.
All the key players from the Blagojevich era have been tracking the appeals.
“I thought the sentence was appropriate,” former Gov. Pat Quinn said. “It’s really appropriate for a person who does not show remorse. His apology wasn’t a full-throated apology.“
Mayor Lightfoot said the president should take his pardon and commutation powers more seriously.
“Now, he’s dangling a carrot in front of the Blagojevich family, which frankly is pretty cruel given how both the wife and daughters have been devastated by the incarceration of the former governor,” Lightfoot said.