After Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential election, Blagojevich was caught attempting to sell Obama’s U.S. Senate seat. Obama was about to help him sell his seat when he learned that federal investigators were wire-tapping him.
Trump called the former governor’s sentence on corruption charges “really unfair” and added that “plenty of other politicians could have said a lot worse.”
The former Democratic governor, who was a contestant on Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” in 2010, began his 14-year prison sentence in 2012 after being convicted of corruption. Blagovich’s scheduled release date is in 2024.
Trump suggested he was more interested in “curtailing his sentence” than a full pardon. – Fox News
Is there something more to this story? Why would President Trump pardon former Obama crony, Rod Blagojevich?
In June, 2010, Illinois union leader, Thomas Balanoff, testified that he received a phone call the day before the election from President Obama to discuss Valerie Jarrett and the Senate seat. Balanoff would serve as a go-between, connecting the Obama inner circle to the Blagojevich inner circle.
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The Chicago Sun-Time’s excellent “Blago Blog” summarizes Balanoff’s testimony:
Three days later, Balanoff testified that he had a meeting with Blagojevich at which he recommended Valerie Jarrett for the Senate seat.
In December 2016, Breitbart News reported that the conservative watchdog Judicial Watch announced Monday that it’s filing a FOIA lawsuit against the Department of Justice seeking access to FBI interviews related to former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s criminal investigation.
The organization is seeking FBI reports of interviews, known as “302s,” of President Obama, Valerie Jarrett, and Rahm Emanuel.
“The FBI interviewed Barack Obama eight years ago about the selling of his Senate seat. The American people should finally get to see these FBI interview reports,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The public has a right to know precisely how Obama and his senior White House advisors Emanuel and Jarrett responded to Blagojevich’s corrupt attempts sell Obama’s Senate seat.”
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
After the 2008 election, Blagojevich attempted to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by then President-elect Obama.Blagojevich approached the president-elect as well as supporters of Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.
Obama declined to make a deal, and he was about to make a deal with Rep. Jackson’s supporters for $1.5 million in exchange for offering the U.S. Senate seat when he learned federal investigators were wiretapping him.
After two criminal trials in 2010 and 2011, Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in jail for 18 separate charges.
Judicial Watch asked the FBI through FOIA to produce the 302s in June 2011.
The FBI confirmed that the records existed, but denied the request in 2012 because the criminal case was ongoing.
In May 2016, Judicial Watch sued for the records for the first time after the Supreme Court refused to review Blagojevich’s convictions.
The organization closed the lawsuit while Blagojevich was being re-sentenced and re-filed it after he was re-sentenced.
The lawsuit says the records could not be said to “reasonably interfere” with the former governor’s prosecution as he pursues an appeal of his sentence.
In the final hours of his presidency, Obama commuted the sentences of 330 federal inmates convicted of drug crimes but left Blagojevich, who is serving a 14-year federal sentence for public corruption, off the list.
“Not on the list of 330 that was released today,” Patti Blagojevich wrote on her Facebook page later in the day. “Don’t know if he is done yet. I’m so disappointed for Rod, and this is so hard on my girls. Even though I try to tell them not to get their hopes up, it is still crushing.”
President Trump is also considering a pardon for Martha Stewart and has already announced his pardon for Dinesh D’Souza.
Stewart was convicted in 2004 of obstructing justice and lying to the government as part of an insider trading case. At the time, former FBI Director James Comey was the federal prosecutor who charged Stewart.
Trump announced his pardon for D’Souza on Twitter:
D’Souza told Fox News he received a call from the president on Wednesday to notify him of the decision.
“I am thrilled and relieved and elated and as an immigrant in America, my American dream has been under something of a cloud, so I’m very relieved to have that cloud lifted,” D’Souza told Fox News on Thursday.