Blagojevich and That Drain the Swamp Thing
Blagojevich and That Drain the Swamp Thing
Disgraced former IL governor Rod Blagojevich ran laps Monday on a bright blue Colorado morning. But “Blago” isn’t on vacation in the Rockies, unless you count Club Fed as a vacation spot. He’s at the Federal Correction Institution-Englewood near Littleton, where he’s serving a 14 year sentence for public corruption. Now he’s waiting to see if President Trump will give him clemency.
His wife, Patti, has been his cheerleader for the seven years he’s been in the pen, and she’s “grateful” that Trump is considering the commutation.
Nor is Patti Blagojevich the only prominent person asking for clemency for her husband; Rev. Jesse Jackson and his son Jesse Jackson, Jr., are also on Team Blago. However, you should note that JJ Jr., a former IL US Rep. from Chicago, served time for looting from his campaign funds and still gets over $138K from the federal government. So let that sink in.
But that’s the Chicago Way.
Last Thursday President Trump tweeted this:
“Rod Blagojevich, the former Governor of Illinois, was sentenced to 14 years in prison. He has served 7 years. Many people have asked that I study the possibility of commuting his sentence in that it was a very severe one. White House staff is continuing the review of this matter.”
So why is Blagojevich, a Democrat, even serving this sentence in the first place? Let’s review Blago’s sordid history.
Rod Blagojevich became Illinois governor in 2002, vowing to clean up the corruption left behind by the previous governor, George Ryan. Ryan, it should be noted, also spent time in the federal pen. But it wasn’t long before state and federal investigators were checking into Blago’s own trail of corruption with state hiring, appointments, and fundraising.
But the big bomb dropped in 2008 when feds arrested Blagojevich for trying to sell Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat. They had recorded him in this now-famous boast:
“I’ve got this thing and it’s (expletive) golden. I’m not just giving it up for (expletive) nothing.”
Blagojevich was impeached and removed from office even before the trial began. In 2011 a jury found him guilty of 17 of 20 counts of corruption, along with other shakedown attempts, which included Children’s Memorial Hospital for $25K in campaign money. His legal team kept fighting over the years, even getting five counts thrown out, but Blago still sits in federal prison. What’s more, the Supreme Court has refused to hear his case.
So why is Trump paying attention to this now? He had looked at the case in 2018, but his administration advised against it. Some point to Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, as one of Blagojevich’s biggest advocates. But there’s also the temptation of releasing Blagojevich as a middle finger to former FBI Director James Comey and Comey’s pal, former US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.
Here’s what Trump said about the Blagojevich prosecution:
“And a lot of people thought it (the Blagojevich prosecution) was unfair, like a lot of other things. And it was the same gang — the Comey gang and the — all these sleazebags — that did it.”
I get it. Trump hates the “Comey gang:” Comey, Fitzgerald, and Robert Mueller, who all sent Blago to prison, apparently. It’s not that Blagojevich is a sleazebag as well — I guess in Trump’s mind two things cannot simultaneously be true.
So whatever happened to “drain the swamp,” hmm, Mr. President?
As Chicago Tribune writer John Kass said about Blago’s Illinois, the “most corrupt state in the union:”
“In Washington, it’s called “The Swamp.” In Illinois, it’s the Combine. Each has its media biscuit eaters, and institutional lines of defense, with gatekeepers and spinners running interference and moderates wetting their beaks. . . . “
“If Trump foolishly commutes Blagojevich’s sentence, Blago will become a celebrity. He’ll . . .star in his own cheap redemption saga. His wife and kids will hug him and cry on the morning shows about Trump’s kindness.”
But this isn’t about kindness. It’s about Trump’s hatred for Comey that might spring this Illinois dirtbag from prison.
With Trump, Blagojevich once again has “this thing” which is f*cking golden.” So much for draining the swamp.