President Donald Trump is considering commuting the 14-year prison sentence of disgraced former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
“I thought he was treated unbelievably unfairly," Trump told reporters traveling with him on Air Force One late Wednesday. "He was given close to 18 years in prison. And a lot of people thought it was unfair, like a lot of other things – and it was the same gang, the Comey gang and all these sleazebags that did it.”
"Comey" is former FBI Director James Comey, whom Trump fired shortly after taking office. Comey is a frequent target of Trump's criticism, claiming he used the FBI to try to help Hillary Clinton win the 2016 presidential election.
Blagojevich is in the middle of serving a 14-year prison sentence for a corruption conviction tied to his attempt to sell newly elected President Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat. He's eligible for release in 2024. The man who prosecuted Blagojevich, former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, is close friends and a former associate of Comey's.
"I think it’s enough, seven years," Trump said.
Before being imprisoned, Blagojevich was a contestant on “The Celebrity Apprentice,” Trump's hit NBC TV show. He served as governor of Illinois from 2003 until 2009, when he was impeached and removed from office by the state legislature.
Since Trump first took office, people close to Blagojevich have attempted to persuade the president to pardon the former governor or commute his sentence, including Blagojevich’s wife Patti and the Reverend Jesse Jackson.
A commutation is a reduction in a prison term but the conviction remains on a person's record. A pardon is an absolution of the crime.