BREAKING: Trump commutes Blagojevich sentence, pardons former NYCPD Commissioner Kerik
President Trump issued a spree of clemency decisions Tuesday for high-profile figures -- most notably commuting the sentence of former Democratic Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was convicted for attempting to sell Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat when he was elected president.
Trump confirmed to reporters that he's granted clemency for the ex-governor, calling his sentence "ridiculous."
“He’ll be able to go back home with his family after serving eight years in jail,” Trump said.
Trump also said he's granted clemency to financier Michael Milken, who pleaded guilty for violating U.S. securities laws.
Further, Trump confirmed he has pardoned former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, who was sentenced on tax fraud charges in 2010. It comes on the same day the White House announced Trump was granting a full pardon to former San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr., who was convicted of failing to report a bribe to the former governor of Louisiana when he pleaded guilty in 1998.
Blagojevich was convicted in 2010 on corruption charges and sentenced to 14 years in federal prison, a sentence he has been serving at a federal prison in Littleton, Colo. Trump was considering a commutation for Blagojevich last year, but plans were put on hold amid worries over pushback.
"Many people disagreed with the sentence," Trump told reporters on Tuesday, before turning to two individuals he's bashed during his time in office. "He's a Democrat, he's not a Republican It was a prosecution by the same people, [James] Comey, [Patrick Fitzgerald], the same group."
Trump also expressed sympathy for the former Illinois governor's children.
"Very far from his children," Trump said. "They rarely get to see their father outside of an orange uniform. I saw that and I did commute his sentence."
The president also sounded off on the harshness of Blagojevich's sentence.
"That was a tremendously powerful, ridiculous sentence in my opinion," Trump said.
Blagojevich, who hails from a state with a long history of pay-to-play schemes, was one of four out of seven consecutive Illinois governors to be sent to prison. His immediate predecessor, George Ryan, was convicted of racketeering for his actions a governor and secretary of state.
Blagojevich was originally convicted on 18 counts, including lying to the FBI, wire fraud for trying to trade an appointment to the Obama seat for contributions, and for the attempted extortion of a children's hospital executive. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago in 2015 tossed five of 18 convictions, including ones in which he offered to appoint someone to a high-paying job in the Senate.