CHICAGO (CBS) — As former Gov. Rod Blagojevich prepares to head to prison in three days to begin his 14-year sentence on corruption charges, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said his thoughts are with the Blagojevich family.
“You know, there’s a family here, there are children here whose father is about to go to jail. So my thoughts are with them,” Emanuel said Monday.
Blagojevich must report to prison Thursday at the low-security facility at FCI Englewood, located in Littleton, Colo., near Denver. He is scheduled to address the media shortly after 5 p.m. outside his Ravenswood Manor home on Wednesday, the day before he reports to prison to make a last public statement before he begins his sentence.
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Emanuel, who was elected to the same Congressional district that Blagojevich represented before he was elected governor, said he would have to be “callous” not to sympathize with the Blagojevich family, given that the former governor will be behind bars for more than a decade, but said he would not discuss his own opinions of the case against Blagojevich.
Emanuel said his thoughts are with Blagojevich’s wife, Patti, and his two daughters, Amy and Annie.
“This is very ripping. It doesn’t mean I don’t have opinion or a judgment about something else that everybody else has, one way or another, expressed. I’m not going to add any insight to it,” he said.
Asked what Illinois residents should be thinking as the former governor heads to prison, Emanuel said, “They’ll make their own judgment of what this moment is. If you’re asking, then my thoughts are – and if they want to cue off anything I have to say – is what I just said: my thoughts are with the family on the private side.”
The mayor was called as a defense witness at Blagojevich’s second trial, but was on the stand only a couple minutes.
Emanuel has not discussed his testimony, which was mostly limited to one-word answers about his efforts to get state funding for a school in his district while Blagojevich was governor and Emanuel was a Congressman. He also that no one with the Blagojevich camp ever told him that a key adviser to President Barack Obama could get appointed to the U.S. Senate in exchange for Blagojevich being put in charge of a multimillion dollar non-profit group funded by Obama donors.
Blagojevich has rarely been seen in public since he was sentenced to 14 years in prison last December.