//Rod Blagojevich, freed by Trump pardon, leaves Colorado jail, returns to Illinois

Rod Blagojevich, freed by Trump pardon, leaves Colorado jail, returns to Illinois

After leaving jail Tuesday, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich expressed his “everlasting gratitude” to President Trump who commuted his 14-year corruption sentence.

Blagojevich, who served eight years behind bars in Colorado, jokingly known as himself a “Trumpocrat,” saying the president “noticed a improper and corrected it.”

Trump mentioned the punishment imposed on the Chicago Democrat and one-time contestant on Trump’s actuality TV present “Movie star Apprentice” was extreme. “So he’ll be capable of return dwelling along with his household,” he mentioned. “That was a tremendously powerful, ridiculous sentence in my opinion and in the opinion of many others.”

Blagojevich was convicted in his second trial in 2011 on 18 counts, together with making an attempt to promote former President Obama’s former Senate seat. His first trial ended with the jury unable to achieve a verdict, aside from a single conviction, for mendacity to the FBI.

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“I’ve got this thing and it’s f—— golden. And I’m just not giving it up for f—— nothing,” Blagojevich mentioned about Obama’s seat on an notorious wiretap.

“I didn’t do the things they said I did and they lied on me,” Blagojevich informed Chicago’s WGN-TV as he walked by means of O’Hare airport shaking the palms of vacationers who welcomed him dwelling.

As he exited the airport doorways he was rushed by media and supporters, signing a number of autographs earlier than getting right into a white SUV and rushing out of the airport towards his Ravenswood dwelling. There he was rushed by means of a crowd of journalists and supporters to his entrance door. He mentioned he was joyful to be dwelling along with his spouse and kids earlier than disappearing into the home.

Blagojevich mentioned he would have extra to say in a Wednesday information convention.

Trump expressed some sympathy for Blagojevich when he appeared on “Movie star Apprentice” in 2010, earlier than his first corruption trial began. When Trump “fired” Blagojevich as a contestant, he praised him for a way he was combating his felony case, telling him, “You have a hell of a lot of guts.”

Blagojevich testified throughout his trial, calling himself a flawed dreamer grounded in his mother and father’ working-class values. He mentioned the hours of FBI recordings have been the ramblings of a politician who favored to assume out loud.

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After he was launched, the previous governor mentioned he realized how unfair the felony justice system may be throughout his time in jail, particularly for individuals of colour. He additionally mentioned he was drawn nearer to God. “There’s divine intervention in all of this,” he informed reporters.

“I will combat towards the corrupt felony justice system that every one too typically persecutes and prosecutes individuals who did nothing improper, who over-sentences individuals, present no mercy, and who’re in positions who haven’t any accountability,” Blagojevich mentioned. “They will do no matter they need. They will put you into jail for issues that are not crimes.”

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker rebuked the president’s commutation in an announcement.

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich arrives home from prison after his sentence was commuted by President Donald Trump on Feb. 19, 2020 in Chicago. Blagojevich had been serving time in federal prison for attempting to sell Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat when Obama was elected president. (Getty Images)

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich arrives dwelling from jail after his sentence was commuted by President Donald Trump on Feb. 19, 2020 in Chicago. Blagojevich had been serving time in federal jail for making an attempt to promote Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat when Obama was elected president. (Getty Photos)

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Trump “has abused his pardon power in inexplicable ways to reward his friends and condone corruption, and I deeply believe this pardon sends the wrong message at the wrong time,” he mentioned.

Chairman of the Illinois GOP, Tim Schneider, agreed. “In a state the place corrupt, machine-style politics remains to be all too widespread, it is necessary that these discovered responsible serve their jail sentence in its entirety,” he mentioned.

Trump made clear that he noticed similarities between efforts to research his personal conduct and people who took down Blagojevich.

“It was a prosecution by the identical individuals — Comey, Fitzpatrick, the identical group,” Trump mentioned. He was referring to Patrick Fitzgerald, the previous U.S. legal professional who prosecuted Blagojevich and now represents former FBI Director James Comey, whom Trump fired from the company in Could 2017.

He entered jail in March 2012.

Blagojevich grew to become the primary Illinois governor to be eliminated by lawmakers in a virtually unanimous vote after he was impeached in 2009.

In 2015, the seventh U.S. Circuit Courtroom of Appeals in Chicago tossed out 5 of his convictions, together with ones during which he supplied to nominate somebody to a high-paying job within the Senate.

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A joint assertion from the lead prosecutors at Blagojevich’s trial, none of whom work within the U.S. Lawyer’s Workplace in Chicago anymore, stopped in need of criticizing Trump’s choice. However they highlighted the convictions, together with making an attempt to shake down a youngsters’s hospital, saying, “Mr. Blagojevich stays a felon.”

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Blagojevich Tuesday night mentioned he’s made errors however by no means broke any legal guidelines. “I crossed no traces. And the issues I talked about doing have been authorized and this was routine politics and those who did it are those who broke the legal guidelines and those who frankly ought to meet and face some accountability.”

The Related Press contributed to this report.