Ex-Gov Rod Blagojevich Returns to Chicago, Thanks Trump

Victor Westerkamp
By Victor Westerkamp
February 19, 2020Politics

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich returned home to Chicago on Wednesday after President Donald Trump commuted his 14-year prison sentenced a day before.

In his first remarks Tuesday night, Blagojevich expressed his “most profound and everlasting gratitude to President Trump,” dubbing himself a “Trumpocrat.”

“President Trump is the one who did this, and I’m … profoundly grateful,” Blagojevich told reporters at Denver International Airport before boarding a flight to Chicago after being released earlier that day. “He’s got obviously a big fan in me,” said Blagojevich, 63. “And if you’re asking me what my party affiliation is, I’m a Trump-ocrat.”

“He didn’t have to do this. He’s a Republican president; I was a Democratic governor,” Blagojevich added. “My fellow Democrats have not been very kind to him. … In fact, they’ve been very unkind to him.”

The former governor also told reporters he is innocent as he walked through the airport. “I didn’t do the things they said I did and they lied on me.”

NTD Photo
Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich arrives at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, on Feb. 19, 2020. (Kamil Krzaczynski/AFP/Getty Images)
Trump outside the White House
President Donald Trump outside the White House in a file photograph. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

After arriving home in Chicago on Wednesday, Blagojevich lavished praise on Trump.

“I’m profoundly grateful to President Trump, and I will be for as long as I live,” Blagojevich said at a press conference outside his Chicago home. “He didn’t have to do this. He’s a Republican president. I was a Democratic governor. But he’s a man who’s not only tough and outspoken, strong, but he has a kind heart. And I’ll be forever grateful.”

For several years, Blagojevich and his wife pushed for Trump to commute his sentence. He was convicted of trying to sell Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat and trying to extort a children’s hospital in 2011.

But Trump, in remarks to reporters on Tuesday, said he felt Blagojevich’s sentence was unfair.

“That was a tremendously powerful, ridiculous sentence in my opinion and in the opinion of many others,” Trump said. In previous years, the president said he was considering taking action on his case.

Several local Illinois officials, including the governor and some Republicans, said it was a mistake to commute Blagojevich’s sentence.

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,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a statement to news outlets. “In a state where corrupt, machine-style politics is still all too common, it’s important that those found guilty serve their prison sentence in its entirety,” said the chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, Tim Schneider, in a statement.

Now, after his release, Blagojevich—known sometimes in the media as “Blago”—told the Tribune that now, he wants to regain the public’s trust, again saying he is not guilty.

“That if I were to give in to the pressure and give in to the shakedown that was done to me, that I would be violating my oath of office to fight for the Constitution and fight for the rule of law and keep my promises to [the public],” he said. “ ’Cause I didn’t do the things they said I did. And they lied on me.”

Epoch Times reporter Jack Phillips contributed to this report

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