Former FBI boss: Blagojevich 'very corrupt'

WGN Investigates
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CHICAGO — The former head of the FBI in Chicago, a man who oversaw corruption cases against two, Illinois governors, spoke to WGN News about Blagojevich’s commutation.

Rob Grant called it a miscarriage of justice and sees a direct link between it and the president’s own legal problems.

“I have sympathy for the family saying he’s been in prison a long time, but he’s been in prison a long time for a very specific reason: Because he was very corrupt,” Grant said.

Freed of the formality of the FBI office he once ran, Grant can now speak candidly about how he, along with his agents and federal prosecutors, took down Blagojevich.

Grant was the one who called Blagojevich early on a December morning in 2008 to say the FBI was outside his home ready to arrest him.

“My job was to wake him up and not to create commotion,” Grant said. “We were trying to do this quietly, inobtrusively as possible and not disturb too much the daughters for sure.”

It took two trials to convict Blagojevich.  The first jury was hung.  So when the judge handed down the 14 year prison term, it marked the end of a long, grueling case.

“That denial that he did anything wrong doesn’t reflect to me someone who has taken responsibility for what he did,” Grant said. “I think anytime someone serves more than 10 years for a crime short of murder, it’s hard.  But there are a lot of people in federal prison serving 20 or 30 years sentences who did not have the responsivity Rod Blagojevich had and didn’t have the warning of his predecessor to guide his actions.”

Grant revealed that he and U.S. Attorney Pat Fitzgerald sat at the sentencing hearing of previous Governor George Ryan knowing the next governor was already under investigation.

The brazenness of Blagojevich was captured on FBI wiretaps.

“I know when I played one tape for Director Mueller,” Grant said. “All I remember him doing was shaking his head and saying ‘Only in Illinois. Only in Chicago.” It was so blatant.”

All these years later former FBI Director Robert Mueller is now leading the Russia investigation and finds himself accused by the president of leading a witch hunt.  It’s a claim Blagojevich made too.

“At the end of the day, I think it’s probably a sign to people who are witnesses in the Mueller investigation that you can do anything you want so long as you’re connected to me.  I know you.  And I’m going to find you a way out of this mess,” Grant said. “They’ve taken advantage of this president’s penchant for watching a lot of TV and being dazzled by celebrity status as opposed to process.  That’s why I’m opposed to pardons.  I don’t blame Patti Blagojevich for doing it but the strings they’re pulling to use FOX News, to use Judge Jeanine Piero, to attack Bob Mueller, to attack Pat Fitzgerald, to attack Jim Comey, as if this was all part of a grand conspiracy, which it was not.  It started on the ground floor with the hard work of FBI agents.”

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