Durbin Slams Blagojevich Commutation After Previously Expressing Support

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 27: Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich leaves following a guilty verdict in his corruption retrial at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse June 27, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. After deliberating for nine days jurors found Blagojevich guilty of 17 out of the 20 counts that he was being …
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Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) is criticizing President Donald Trump for commuting the prison sentence of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, despite having previously supported such a move himself.

Durbin, who serves as his party’s minority whip in the Senate, released a statement opposing Blagojevich’s commutation shortly after the White House announced Trump’s decision on the matter.

“Former governor Blagojevich betrayed the people of Illinois and engaged in a pattern of corrupt behavior for which he was held accountable and which cost him more than seven years of freedom,” Durbin said, before calling on lawmakers in Illinois and Washington, D.C. to “establish stricter ethics requirements, including the full detailed disclosure of income, net worth, and income tax returns.”

Blagojevich, a Democrat, served as governor of Illinois between 2003 and 2009, when he was impeached and removed from office for public corruption. The story generated widespread media attention, especially after it emerged the governor had attempted to sell the senate seat vacated by Barack Obama upon his election to the presidency.

In June 2011, Blagojevich was convicted and sentenced to 14 years in prison, of which he has served nearly eight. The sentence was considered by many to be unduly harsh, given the former governor’s lack of criminal record. Durbin, for his part, seemed to agree, at least when the Trump administration first began floating the idea of a commutation.

“I think that the sentence imposed on Rod Blagojevich was definitely way too long,” Durbin told the Washington Post in June 2018.  “Fourteen years, it didn’t make sense.”

At the time, Durbin refused to discuss whether or not he believed Blagojevich was guilty, but he did admit the length of the former governor’s sentence was “outrageous.”

“If there’s a way to reduce the sentence for him and his family, I would support it,” the senator told the Post. “I’ll let President Trump make that decision, but I certainly think 14 years was entirely too long.”

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