President Donald Trump commuted the sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, effectively ending the 14-year sentence he had been serving for soliciting bribes in exchange for political appointments, including for the Senate seat that became vacant when Barack Obama became president.

Blagojevich, a Democrat and former contestant on Trump’s old television show The Celebrity Apprentice, had been serving his time for the 17 federal charges he was convicted unanimously of in a Colorado federal prison. He walked out a free man late Tuesday and flew back to Chicago.

“He didn’t have to do this, he’s a Republican president and I was a Democratic governor. I’ll have a lot more to say tomorrow.” Blagojevich told Chicago television station WGN-TV at the Denver airport on his way to Chicago.

When he arrived, he said to the station: “I didn’t do the things they said I did.”


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Trump told reporters that his sentence was “ridiculous” and that eight years in prison is a long time.

“He served eight years in jail, that’s a long time, and I watched his wife on television,” Trump told reporters Tuesday. “I don’t know him very well, I met him a couple of times, he was on for a short time on The Apprentice years ago, seemed like a very nice person, don’t know him, but he served eight years in jail, there’s a long time to go.”

He continued, “He’ll be able to go home to his family after serving eight years in jail, that was a tremendously powerful, ridiculous sentence in my opinion.”

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker (D) tweeted Tuesday afternoon that “this pardon sends the wrong message at the wrong time.”

“President Trump has abused his pardon power in inexplicable ways to reward his friends and condone corruption, and I deeply believe this pardon sends the wrong message at the wrong time,” Pritzker wrote.

He added in a second tweet, “I’m committed to continuing to take clear and decisive steps this spring to prevent politicians from using their offices for personal gain, and I will continue to approach this work with that firm conviction.”

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