The Public Is Behind Trump on Blagojevich

Lots of people thought 14 years was excessive, writes Natasha Korecki
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 19, 2020 10:45 AM CST
The Public Is Behind Trump on Blagojevich
Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich tries to get into his house as he arrives home in Chicago on Wednesday, after his release from prison.   (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

The backlash was swift Tuesday as President Trump commuted Rod Blagojevich's 14-year prison sentence for political corruption. But Politico reporter Natasha Korecki argues the move "isn't crazy." In a Tuesday op-ed, Korecki—who wrote about Blagojevich's case for the Chicago Sun-Times and in a subsequent book—says "Trump likely risks little political blowback" since the public is generally behind the former Illinois governor, convicted of trying to sell Barack Obama's Senate seat, holding up funding for a children's hospital in exchange for campaign contributions, and lying to the FBI. "Yes, attempting but failing to commit a crime is still a crime. But it's another thing to convince an average person it's illegal, and punishable, especially in [a] city where standing on someone's neck for a payoff is a way of life," Korecki writes.

She notes Blagojevich served eight years, more than the 6.5 years his predecessor George Ryan served for accepting kickbacks. Though Blagojevich could've received 30 years to life under federal guidelines, "there was one sentiment I heard over and over again, which went something like, 'I know Blagojevich was guilty as hell, but 14 years is insane,'" Korecki writes. "Even some of the most ardent Blagojevich critics" took this view since, two years earlier, Blagojevich's sentencing judge had handed a shorter term to an informant who ratted on the Chicago mob but also killed 14 people. In the Blagojevich case, "some of the jurors afterward expressed regret," Korecki notes. They knew he was guilty but "they liked Blagojevich." Trump said Tuesday that 14 years was a "ridiculous sentence in my opinion and in the opinion of many others." (The commutation followed Blagojevich's own op-ed.)

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