CHICAGO (CBS) — 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.
In the past, Trump has said he would consider showing leniency to Blagojevich, calling his 14-year sentence “really unfair.”
“[Fourteen] years in jail for being stupid and saying things that every other politician, you know that many other politicians say,” Trump said last year. “What he did does not justify  years in a jail. If you read his statement, it was a foolish statement. There was a lot of bravado … but it does not .. plenty of other politicians have said a lot worse. And it doesn’t, he shouldn’t have been put in jail.”
Blagojevich was a contestant on Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” television show after he was booted from office as governor.
Trump is Blagojevich’s last hope to get out of prison early. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his last-ditch appeal, leaving presidential clemency as his only option to go free before his sentence is over. He formally filed a petition for leniency last year.
After two trials in 2010 and 2011, Blagojevich was convicted of 18 corruption counts, including charges he tried to sell an appointment to former President Barack Obama’s Senate seat.
Jesse Jackson Jr. has ties to the Blagojevich case. A Jackson fundraiser offered to raise $1 million for Blagojevich in exchange for the then-governor naming Jackson to the Senate seat.
Jackson Jr. has denied any knowledge of the offer and was not charged in the Blagojevich case.
However, in 2013 he was convicted of federal corruption charges for using $750,000 in campaign funds on personal purchases; including clothes, jewelry, vacations, and Hollywood memorabilia. Jackson served about a year and a half in prison, followed by six months in a halfway house and then home confinement.