Rod Blagojevich effusively praised President Trump on Wednesday after returning home from federal prison the day before. Trump commuted the former Illinois governor’s 14-year prison sentence for corruption.
“President Trump is a man who is tough and outspoken, but he also has a kind heart. And this is an act of kindness and I believe it’s the beginning of a process that — to actually turn an injustice into a justice,” he said.
Blagojevich, a Democrat, served eight years in prison after being caught on tape for trying to sell a Senate seat to the highest bidder. He was convicted of 18 crimes total, including attempted extortion from campaign contributors, corrupt solicitation of funds, wire fraud, and lying to federal investigators.
Standing with his wife and children in front of his house Wednesday, Blagojevich described the conditions of the “squalid” prison he was sentenced to, which he said also housed “cartel members, gang bangers, bank robbers…a lot of sex offenders.”
“President Trump is the one who did this and I’m profoundly grateful,” Blagojevich told reporters. “He’s got, obviously, a big fan in me, and if you’re asking me what my party affiliation is, I’m a Trumpocrat.”
Blagojevich praised Trump for his work on criminal justice reform, and framed his imprisonment as an injustice despite his orchestration of multiple corruption schemes, which included exhorting Children’s Memorial Hospital.
“How do you properly thank someone who’s given you back the freedom that was stolen from you?” he asked, adding: “Doing this does nothing to help his politics.”
Blagojevich said prison “all too often persecutes and prosecutes people who did nothing wrong, who over-sentence people, who show no mercy.”
When Trump confirmed Blagojevich’s commutation to reporters on Tuesday, he said the former governor seemed “like a very nice person, don’t know him.”
Blagojevich was a contestant on Trump’s NBC show, “The Celebrity Apprentice,” before Trump “fired” him for inaccurate “Harry Potter facts.”
Thinking about the time Donald Trump scolded Rod Blagojevich on the Celebrity Apprentice over inaccurate Harry Potter facts and inadequate Harry Potter research pic.twitter.com/rx7PH7qP4I
— Josh Billinson (@jbillinson) August 8, 2019