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Trump commutes sentence of disgraced governor Rod Blagojevich who sold Obama Senate seat

Disgraced politician among 11 people to be pardoned or have their sentences commuted

John T. Bennett
Tuesday 18 February 2020 19:48 GMT
Trump explains why he commuted Blagojevich sentence

Donald Trump announced he will commute the sentence of Rod Blagojevich, the former Illinois governor who admitted to trying sell Barack Obama's former US Senate seat.

He was one of 11 people to be pardoned or have their sentences commuted by the president in a matter of hours.

"He seemed like a very nice person," the president said of Mr Blagojevich, claiming he doesn't know him "well."

Mr Trump said he wants the former governor's children to know their father "outside of an orange uniform."

Blagojevich, a Democrat, has served seven years of a 14-year sentence on charges of wire fraud, extortion and seeking bribes while Illinois' chief executive.

The former US House member and governor also has a tie to Mr Trump: He was a contestant on The Apprentice, a business-based reality television show the now-president hosted.

Among the charges that landed Mr Blagojevich in prison was one that he sought to exchange the Senate seat for campaign donations after Mr Obama became president.

Donald Trump fires Rod Blagojevich from The Celebrity Apprentice over 'inaccurate Harry Potter facts'

The flamboyant Mr Blagojevich became known as "Blago" and reports say other inmates refer to him simply as "Gov" on the inside (short for governor).

Mr Trump made the announcement at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington, where he was boarding Air Force One for a West Coast swing for 2020 fundraisers and campaign rallies.

Earlier on Tuesday, the White House announced the president had signed an order commuting the sentence of John Edward DeBartolo Jr, a former owner of the NFL's San Francisco 49ers, who had pleaded guilty in a corruption case involving Louisana's former governor.

It also comes weeks after Senate Republicans acquitted him on charges of abusing his power towards Ukraine and obstructing Congress, with Democrats and legal experts warning he is now more willing to press the envelope and push laws to their breaking point, feeling Senate Republicans will stick by him no matter what.

Former New York City police commissioner Bernie Kerik (AP)

Trump also said he has commuted the sentence of Bernie Kerik, a former New York City police commissioner who once was a George W Bush nominee to lead the Department of Homeland Security.

Federal prosecutors convicted Mr Kerik on eight felony charges that included tax fraud and lying to federal officials.

The other figures to be pardoned or have their sentences commuted are Mike Milken, Paul Pogue, Ariel Friedler, David Safavian, Angela Standon, Tynice Nichole Hall, Crystal Munoz and Judith Negron.

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