CHICAGO (CBS) — President Donald Trump is coming to Chicago next week, and one person who is particularly interested in the visit is Patti Blagojevich.
After all, Trump is the one and only person who can free her husband, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, from prison.
Trump has been silent lately about commuting Blagojevich’s prison sentence. But as CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reported Thursday, that does not mean it isn’t going to happen.
President Trump will be a Trump Tower on Monday for a fundraiser before a speaking engagement.
While there are no plans for Patti Blagojevich to meet with the president, that family representative said they are still working to keep the commutation matter on the president’s radar.
“I’m in direct communication with Jared Kushner,” said family spokesman Mark Vargas.
Kushner is President Trump’s son-in-law. Vargas is currently the connection between the White House and Rod and Patti Blagojevich.
“There is an overwhelming sense of gratefulness to the president,” Vargas said.
The gratitude, Vargas said, is for Trump’s tweets and suggestions on Air Force One that he might commute the rest of Blagojevich’s 14-year prison sentence. Trump started making the suggestions more than a year ago, and discussion on the subject ramped up again in August.
On Wednesday, Aug. 7, Trump had seemed to be enthusiastic about the idea.
“I am thinking very seriously about commuting his sentence so that he can go home to his family after seven years. You have drug dealers that get not even 30 days, and they’ve killed 25 people,” Trump said.
Before his conviction on corruption charges, Blagojevich was a contestant on Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” reality show.
“I thought he was treated unbelievably unfairly. He was given close to 18 years in prison, and a lot of people thought it was unfair, like a lot of other things. And it was the same gang — the Comey gang and all these sleazebags — that did it,” Trump said.
But by Thursday, Aug. 8, Trump’s tone had changed. He tweeted that the White House staff was “continuing the review of this matter” when it came to what to do with Blagojevich’s sentence.
Kozlov asked Vargas why former Gov. Blagojevich is grateful – given that Trump has only said he might commute Blagojevich’s’ sentence but has not done so.
“It’s all about timing,” Vargas answered.
Since May 2018, Patti Blagojevich has occasionally appeared on Fox News, and only on Fox News, to plead her husband’s case.
“I think any wife who wants to see her husband come back home would go consistently on a news channel, and on a network, that the president watches,” Vargas said.
But some people have thoughts that Patti Blagojevich is pandering to President Trump.
To that, Vargas said: “You know, people can think what they want. But again, at the end of the day, she has been an incredible wife.”
Vargas said Patti Blagojevich still talks to her husband every day. Vargas said the ex-governor even dipped his toe back into politics last year, writing a letter in support on the prison reform First Step Act – which passed in December.
Vargas said he has never spoken directly to the president, but communicates through Kushner.
“Jared, in all of our correspondence and interaction – he’s been very, very supportive, and he has actually taken letters of support and he has passed them along to the president,” Vargas said.
Some lawmakers, including U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) and former Attorney General Eric Holder, have gone on record saying former Gov. Blagojevich’s sentence is too long.
But several Republican Illinois members of Congress have written a letter opposing the commutation.
It is not a subject the president is expected to bring up publicly on Monday.