President Trump Commutes Blagojevich Sentence, Pardons Others

Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonder and Home.

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18 Responses

  1. Pinky says:

    I’m of two – maybe three – minds on the subject of pardons and commutations. I hate the concept. It’s monarchical. But practically, I can understand how it serves as a last resort to prevent miscarriages of justice. When you get to the actual cases, though, I usually don’t think they merit the pardon or commutation.

    I’m sure the selective outrage has already started. This is probably the last story about this that I’ll click on. I can’t picture a lot of fruitful conversations in the next few days.Report

  2. Philip H says:

    These cases don’t merit commutation, much less pardon. They are setting up a pardon for Roger Stone – See I just did the same thing for all these other people so I’m not JUST protecting my friends – and they serve as a distraction. From what I can’t yet say, but the timing (especially after Fox cut away from his speech at Daytona to more lucrative commercials) is probably suspect. There’s also the issue of those being pardoned serving time for various tax and investment fraud convictions, which mirror the President’s own legal battles regarding his tax records and his charities.Report

  3. Chip Daniels says:

    Birds of a feather.Report

  4. Pinky says:

    There should be sentencing guidelines for Illinois state officials, just as there are for other major categories of criminals.Report

    • George Turner in reply to Pinky says:

      After he left Vietnam and Colonel Kurtz’s camp, Captain Willard joined the FBI and moved to Chicago.

      How many politicians had I already nailed? There was those six that I know about for sure. Close enough to throw their last beer in my face. But this time it was a governor and a senator. That wasn’t supposed to make any difference to me, but it did. Shit … charging a man with corruption in this place was like handing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500. I took the mission. What the hell else was I gonna do? But, I really didn’t know what I’d do when I busted him.”


  5. CJColucci says:

    When Donald Trump promised to drain the swamp, I didn’t realize that the swamp he had in mind was the federal prison system.Report

  6. My instinct tells me that Blagojevich’s term is too long for what he did. I mean, I’m sure that’s what the law required, but 14 years just seems like too much. So in that sense, I believe commuting the sentence was the right decision.

    Of course, the commutation can be criticized on other grounds. What about all the other people who are unfairly imprisoned, or imprisoned for an unfair amount of time, but who don’t have the personal connection to the president? And Mr.Trump’s decision (so I’ve heard) to bypass the regular vetting process for whom to commute merits criticism. There’s also the fact (or so I believe it’s a fact) that Mr. Trump is doing this either to somehow inflate his own ego or leverage some favorable publicity.

    But I still think commuting the decision is right.Report

    • Stillwater in reply to gabriel conroy says:

      but 14 years just seems like too much

      What’s the right amount of jail time for quite literally trying to sell a Senate seat?Report

      • George Turner in reply to Stillwater says:

        Considering how we basically sell ambassadorships to major donors, should selling Senate seats even be a misdemeanor, other than the crime of straight up bribery for personal gain?

        As a hypothetical, suppose some governor came out and said he give the Senate seat to whoever donated the most to the ASPCA, or whatever charity floats your boat (that isn’t called the Clinton Family Foundation or some other entity that’s basically a slush fund or front). I could see progressives or conservatives regarding that as some kind of merit based test, a simple contest measuring some kind of moral worth. It’s non-democratic, yet the alternative seems to be having a governor flip through his Rolodex of personal friends and political backers.

        If you wanted to give the contest an air of democratic input, you could set it up like a talent show and have people text their votes to 1-800-SENATOR.

        For background, five states avoid the issue entirely by not allowing the governor to make an appointment at all, leaving the seat vacant until a special election is held, and nine other states only allow the governor to make an interim appointment until a special election is held (or regular scheduled major election, such as for the House). 36 states allow the governor to appoint someone to finish the existing Senate term.

        There are probably better ways to handle the interim, such as having a state’s oldest serving House member take over the role, but of course that just moves the vacant hole somewhere else.Report

      • I don’t know, but 14 years seems like too much.

        (But to be fair, if I recall correctly, he was convicted for more than “merely” trying to sell a senate seat.)Report

      • PD Shaw in reply to Stillwater says:

        That conviction was overturned. The Court of Appeals ruled that its not bribery or extortion when political officials offer an exchange of political favors.

        Blagojevich was guilty of extortion for offering to increase physician reimbursement rates for a children’s hospital for campaign contributions.Report

      • Pinky in reply to Stillwater says:

        My gut says life without the possibility of parole.Report

    • PD Shaw in reply to gabriel conroy says:

      I agree the sentence was too long (and commented so when the rumors of commuting circulated); the reasons matter though. He didn’t go to jail for “just politics,” but a shakedown of a children’s hospital.Report