A pardon for Blago?


Here’s a blast from the past involving a name you might not have heard in a while. Do you remember Rod Blagojevich, the former Governor of Illinois? He’s been cooling his heels in a Colorado prison since 2012 after being convicted of trying to sell off Barack Obama’s old Senate seat to the highest bidder. Blago’s attorneys have made a couple of efforts to get some time clipped off of his 14-year sentence, but thus far he hasn’t had any luck.

Now, at 62 years of age, Blago would really like any sort of ticket out of the crowbar hotel that he can manage and he’s enlisted the help of Jessie Jackson’s family in this effort. What do they plan to do? Ask President Trump for a pardon, of course. (CBS Chicago)

Rev. Jesse Jackson and his son, former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., have asked President Donald Trump to pardon disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
In a letter to the president, the Jacksons say that Blagojevich’s 14-year sentence on federal corruption charges “was far longer than the offense deserved.” They urged Trump to grant Blagojevich a full pardon and release him from prison.

Blagojevich has served more than 7 years of his sentence, following his 2011 conviction for, among other things, trying to sell an appointment to the U.S. Senate seat once held by Barack Obama before he was elected president in 2008.

At first glance, this looks like a rather silly request. Any rational analysis of Blago’s sentencing should indicate that fourteen years really wasn’t all that long of a stretch considering what Blagojevich was found to have done. Plus, he’s a Democrat (and part of the Chicago Machine) asking a Republican president for a favor. Bringing in the Jackson family gets you more headlines, but does that really carry any influence with Trump these days?

Taking those facts into account, Donald Trump just laughs this request off, right? Maybe. But perhaps we shouldn’t be so hasty. Trump has been heavily involved in prison reform efforts. He’s also not immune to the charms of celebrities who would otherwise be considered quite liberal. I mean, Kim Kardashian has been a regular visitor to the Oval Office and was able to motivate the President to commute a non-violent offender’s sentence.

Also, there’s some history to be considered here. Back in the 80s and 90s in New York, Trump and Jackson did business together at times and seemed to be fairly close. (Though claims that he officially endorsed Jackson for President back then have been disputed.) Now that they’re both getting on in years, there might be some room in Trump’s world to hear a pitch from his old tenant in the Big Apple.

And what of the charges against Blago? Keep in mind that he wasn’t trying to steal a Senate seat. He was trying to sell one. The guy is a capitalist! Trump can certainly appreciate that.

Okay, most of this is obviously tongue in cheek, but would a Blago pardon be even close to the weirdest thing we’ve seen coming out of the West Wing over the past couple of years? And freeing Blagojevich would drive the media into another frenzy of outrage about the President supporting corruption and blah, blah, blah. Donald Trump loves nothing more than tossing figurative grenades and watching the press implode. I’m not sure we can write this idea off entirely.

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