President Trump commuted the sentence of former Democratic Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich on Tuesday, according to the New York Times.
The president confirmed the move to reporters, calling the initial sentence “ridiculous,” and signaled that Blagojevich had been pursued by “the same group” that investigated the 2016 Trump campaign.
“It was a prosecution by the same people: Comey, Fitzpatrick, the same group . . . That was a tremendously powerful, ridiculous sentence, in my opinion,” Trump said. He added that “I’m actually, I guess, the chief law enforcement officer of the country.”
Blagojevich is currently serving a 14-year sentence in Colorado federal prison after being found guilty in 2011 of attempting to shop the U.S. Senate seat vacated by former president Barack Obama.
The president has signaled willingness to commute Blagojevich’s sentence in the past, tweeting last August that “many people have asked that I study the possibility” of clemency for a “very severe” sentence.
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 also pardoned former NYPD commissioner Bernard Kerik, who was found guilty of tax fraud charges in 2010, and former investment banker Michael R. Milken, who pleaded guilty in 1990 to racketeering and securities fraud charges and was known as the “junk bond king” for his work on Wall Street in the 1980s.
Kerik took to Twitter to thank Trump for his pardon.
— Bernard B. Kerik (@BernardKerik) February 18, 2020
Milken said in a statement that he and his family “are very grateful to the President.”
“We look forward to many more years of pursuing our efforts in medical research, education and public health,” Milken said. Speaking to reporters, Trump praised the former financier for an“incredible job” in philanthropy to fund cancer research.
The president also said that he has “total confidence” in attorney general William Barr, who criticized Trump last week for his tweets on the Roger Stone case.
Asked if he was planning on pardoning Stone, Trump said “I haven’t given it any thought.”
Trump also pardoned former San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr., who was convicted in 1998 over a gambling fraud case, earlier Tuesday.