‘If that doesn’t tell you something about what has been going on in our Country, nothing will…’
(Rick Pearson, Chicago Tribune) President Donald Trump resurrected the specter of a commutation for imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, D-Ill., on Sunday by using social media to urge supporters to watch a Fox News interview with former Illinois first lady Patti Blagojevich.
In the interview, which aired Friday night, Patti Blagojevich attempted to liken a new probe into questionable spending on Trump’s 2017 inauguration to what she thought were injustices in an unrelated criminal matter—namely her husband’s conviction on federal corruption charges over attempting to extort campaign contributions in exchange for favorable legislation—including a children’s hospital.
“It looks here as though General Flynn’s defenses are incidental to something larger which is for the prosecution to figure out if it can find a path to Donald Trump without quite knowing what that crime might be. It stops looking like prosecution and more looking like……
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 16, 2018
Patti Blagojevich, a daughter of powerful former Alderman Dick Mell, has been attempting to use Fox News as a method to parlay relief for her husband, the former Illinois governor who was arrested a decade ago this month and has served almost half of his 14-year federal sentence.
In July, she wrote an op-ed column in the Washington Examiner and appeared on MacCallum’s show contending the Department of Justice under Barack Obama was responsible for the prosecution of her husband, though it was launched and largely conducted under the administration of Republican George W. Bush.
Prominent Democrats in the state, including Jesse Jackson Jr. were among those implicated in the pay-to-play scandal to fill the seat left open by Obama when he was elected president after serving less than four years in the Senate. Republican legislators have previously voiced their opposition to the possibility of a pardon.
Patty Blagojevich has sought to appeal to Trump for leniency by citing what she considers an unchecked Justice Department, in line with the president criticizing Mueller’s probe of Russian collusion in the 2016 Trump victory as a “witch hunt.”
In May, Trump raised the possibility of granting relief from Rod Blagojevich’s sentence for “being stupid and saying things that every other politician, you know, that many other politicians say.” But it was the last word Trump had made about Blagojevich, who was an unsuccessful contestant on his “Celebrity Apprentice” show following his arrest.
As she has in previous appearances on Fox News, the former first lady once again sought to portray that portions of her husband’s conviction on charges of attempting to sell the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Obama’s 2008 election to the presidency had been thrown out.
In reality, her husband was still convicted of wire fraud involving discussions to personally profit from selling the Senate appointment. The charges that were dropped were due to a technicality involving jury instructions.
The former first lady, seeking to appeal to Trump during a holiday time when pardons and commutations are often granted, used her Friday Fox News interview to call her husband’s prosecutors the “same political assassins” who are doing the same thing “to President Trump right now.”
Federal prosecutors, she said, “are trying taking legal fundraising contributions and legal requests for fundraising and turning them into something that is a, you know, they’re crimes and they’re nonexisting crimes,” she said on Fox News.
But neither the former first lady, nor Fox News, mentioned her husband’s convictions for attempting to shake down an executive of a children’s hospital and a racetrack owner for campaign cash in exchange for official acts.
While Trump described Patti Blagojevich as “wonderful,” the former first lady also was under severe scrutiny though she was not criminally charged. Prosecutors said she received real estate commissions from an ally of her husband, developer Tony Rezko, for doing no work. Rezko also was convicted of federal corruption charges.
Additionally, when the former Tribune Co. that owned the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Cubs sought state assistance to rebuild Wrigley Field, she supported her husband’s call to try to force owners to fire a critical Chicago Tribune Editorial Board.
In a government recording, Patti Blagojevich said, “Hold up that (expletive) Cubs (expletive),” she said. “(Expletive) them. (Expletive) them.”
(Chicago Tribune’s Will Lee contributed.)
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