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Trump commutes prison sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich

Posted at 1:45 PM, Feb 18, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that he has commuted the 14-year prison sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

The 63-year-old Democrat walked out of a federal prison in Colorado around 7 p.m. local time.

“He’ll be able to go back home with his family after serving eight years in jail,” said Trump to reporters . "That was a tremendously powerful, ridiculous sentence in my opinion, and the opinion of many others.”

Blagojevich was arrested on corruption charges in 2008 after the Justice Department alleged he ran a "pay to play" scheme when filling the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama. In 2009, Blagojevich was impeached and removed from office.

Blagojevich was then indicted by a federal grand jury on corruption charges in April 2009. He was later found guilty on one count of lying to the FBI. A mistrial was declared on 23 other charges. Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in prison and has been incarcerated since 2012.

Blagojevich appeared on "The Celebrity Apprentice" — a television series hosted by Trump — in 2010.

Trump has floated a commutation or pardon for Blagojevich in the past. In August 2019, Trump told reporters aboard Air Force 1 that he felt that Blagojevich had served "enough" time in prison. He also said in 2018 that he was "seriously thinking of a curtailment" of Blagojevich's sentence.

Hours before the commutation of Blagojevich's sentence Tuesday, it was announced that Trump had issued a pardon to businessman and former San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr., clearing him of a 1998 fraud conviction.

Editor's note: This story originally stated that Blagojevich had been pardoned, when actually, his sentence had been commuted.