CHICAGO (CBS) — In his comments on Air Force One as he said he is considering commuting the sentence of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, President Donald Trump stressed that Blagojevich is “not a friend.”
However close the two might or might not be, Blagojevich and Trump clearly have a lot in common, particularly their love for the spotlight and that they both consider themselves the victims of overzealous federal investigations.
And as CBS 2’s Megan Hickey reported Thursday, on Blagojevich and Trump’s relationship to one another back nearly two decades. They might not be “friends,” but they’ve got plenty of connections.
They have also spent time together. Trump hosted Blagojevich on his TV show, “The Celebrity Apprentice,” and supported Blagojevich financially during both of his bids for Illinois governor.
Trump described Blagojevich Wednesday as “a man who’s a Democrat, not a Republican, who I don’t know very well.”
But Trump and Blagojevich shared screen time on four episodes in Season 3 of “The Celebrity Apprentice.”
And the relationship actually started years before that, with Trump’s checkbook.
Trump also has personally donated $7,000 to Blagojevich’s campaigns ($5,000 in 2002 and $2,000 in 2007) before his conviction, and his hotel and casino organization donated another $2,000 in 2003.
The records do not show any donations to Blagojevich’s Republican opponents – Jim Ryan in 2002 or Judy Baar Topinka in 2006.
If Trump follows through with his plans to commute Blagojevich’s sentence, it will be an ironic book end to Blagojevich’s time behind bars. Blagojevich mentioned Trump just as he was preparing to report to federal prison in March 2012.
“I got fired by Donald Trump,” Blagojevich said at the time. “This thing I’ve got to do now is worse.”
Blagojevich has served more than seven 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.
“I am thinking about commuting his sentence. He’s been in jail for seven years, over a phone call where nothing happens. But over a phone — where nothing happened. Over a phone call where — which, you know, he shouldn’t have said what he said, but it was braggadocio, you would say. I would think that there have been many politicians — I’m not one of them, by the way, just in case — but that have said a lot worse over telephones,” Trump said Wednesday.
Federal wire taps recorded Blagojevich talking with others about looking for favors in return for an Senate appointment, famously referring to it as “f—ing golden.”