FILE PHOTO: Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich makes a statement to reporters outside his Chicago home one day before reporting to federal prison in Colorado to serve a 14-year sentence for corruption, March 14, 2012. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes/File Photo
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he was seriously considering commuting the prison sentence of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.
Blagojevich was convicted on charges including wire fraud, extortion and soliciting bribes while governor. He served from January 2003 to January 2009, when the Illinois Senate removed him from office. Blagojevich began serving a 14-year prison sentence in 2012.
“I thought he was treated unbelievably unfairly,” Trump told reporters on Air Force One. “I am thinking about commuting his sentence.”
The U.S. Supreme Court last year turned away Blagojevich’s latest bid to shorten his prison sentence.
Prosecutors in the case said Blagojevich, a Democrat and former contestant on Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” reality TV show, solicited campaign contributions in exchange for raising pediatric healthcare reimbursement rates and legislation supporting his state’s horse racing industry. Blagojevich also tried to sell or trade the Senate seat that Barack Obama vacated after winning the 2008 U.S. presidential election, prosecutors said.
“I think it’s enough, seven years,” Trump said, adding that Blagojevich was not a friend and not a member of the same political party. “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 White House has suggested before that such a commutation was possible. An official said last year that the president was still considering the issue.
Reporting by Jeff Mason and Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Shri Navaratnam