For the imprisoned former governor of Illinois, this is a good week — and it could get even better. President Donald Trump says he is “very strongly” thinking about a pardon for Rod Blagojevich, who has been cooling his heels in federal prison since he was convicted of a wide-ranging corruption plot in 2011. Simply put, Trump thinks Blago deserves a break.
“I think it’s enough, seven years,” Trump said to reporters as he was winging his way back to the White House from Texas. “I thought he was treated unbelievably unfairly. He was given close to 18 years in prison. And a lot of people though it was unfair.”
It was actually a 14-year sentence and let’s put aside for a moment Trump’s always-handy (and rarely proven) assertion that “a lot of people” agree with him. Prosecutors had evidence that the Democratic governor was offering political handouts to others in exchange for financial rewards for himself. He tried to auction off Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat, for crying out loud. In terms of public service, misusing your office to satisfy naked, personal greed is pretty much the worst kind of betrayal. Even Trump’s fellow Republicans in Illinois have said a pardon would send a terrible message. And yet, here we are with Trump nibbling at the idea.
But of course he is. Donald Trump has long made it clear he does not see any real problem mixing public office with personal interests. He grudgingly stepped away from his family’s business when he took the oath, but only after insisting that he really shouldn’t have to. And questions continue to swirl about just how divorced he is from the Trump Organization.
So while the erstwhile governor is now a bona fide criminal, it’s not surprising Trump sees a sympathetic character sitting in the Iron Bar Hilton. After all, even if Blago bent a few rules, made some illicit promises, and tried to strike some shady deals, he was just looking out for his own interests. And in Trumpland, what could be wrong with that?