Feb 19, 2020
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Who Is Rod Blagojevich and Why Did Trump Commute His Sentence?

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“Blagojevich is the face of public corruption in Illinois, and not once has he shown any remorse for his clear and documented record of egregious crimes that undermined the trust placed in him by voters,” a statement issued by five members of Congress read. “As our state continues to grapple with political corruption, we shouldn’t let those who breached the public trust off the hook.”

Some other Illinois politicians have questioned the severity of Mr. Blagojevich’s sentence. Roland W. Burris, whom Mr. Blagojevich ultimately appointed to the vacant Senate seat, said he was pleased that the former governor was coming home. A full pardon would have been even better, Mr. Burris said.

“For him to be away for eight years for running his mouth — I just think that was excessive,” said Mr. Burris, who was never embraced by fellow Democrats during his stint in the Senate, and did not run for re-election; he has since retired as a lawyer in Chicago. “Patti stuck by him all the way,” Mr. Burris said, “and I just hope that he can settle in now and get his life back together.”

But the state’s current governor, J.B. Pritzker, also a Democrat, was critical of the commutation. “President 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,” he wrote as part of a Twitter thread.

And Jim Durkin, the Republican leader in the Illinois House of Representatives, told reporters on Tuesday that Mr. Blagojevich had been “rogue on steroids” and that he disagreed with the president’s decision.

“It’s just because of the celebrity of Rod Blagojevich,” Mr. Durkin said. “And I think it’s wrong, and it sends a bad message to the people of this country, that, you know what, you don’t exactly have to pay your debt to society.”

Ellen Almer Durston contributed reporting from Chicago. Mindy Sink contributed reporting from Littleton, Colo.

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