CHICAGO (CBS) — Gov. J.B. Pritzker is not on board with President Donald Trump’s idea of commuting the sentence of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Pritzker spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh released the following statement Thursday afternoon: “The governor has said he believes the former governor is in prison, where he belongs. The president should instead focus his attention on the critical issues facing this country, like gun safety.”
Trump said Thursday he’s “thinking very seriously” about commuting Blagojevich’s sentence on corruption charges, claiming the former governor’s crimes amounted to no more than “braggadocio” and ill-advised talk on the phone.
Blagojevich has served more than seven years of his 14-year 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.
While campaigning for governor in 2018, Pritzker briefly became the subject of controversy over a phone call between him and Blagojevich nearly a decade earlier. The call was recorded on an FBI wiretap.
Pritzker has said he pushed for Blagojevich to appoint Secretary of State Jesse White to fill Barack Obama’s old Senate seat in 2008. In the call, he described Illinois Senate President Emil Jones – also seen at the time as a possible Obama successor – as “crass.”
He also said, if Blagojevich were forced to pick an African-American to replace Obama in the Senate, Jesse White would be the “least offensive” pick.
Blagojevich went on to appoint former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris for the Senate seat – three weeks after the former governor was arrested on accusations of trying to sell the Senate seat. Blagojevich was impeached and removed from office a month later.
Pritzker apologized for the remarks after they were made public, and went on to be elected governor.