CHICAGO — After a day of reaction after President Donald Trump told reporters on Air Force One he was commuting the sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, the president tweeted saying the matter is still under review.
"Many people have asked that I study the possibility of commuting his sentence in that it was a very severe one. White House staff is continuing the review of this matter," the president said.
On Wednesday, the president told reporters he thought the former governor, who is serving a 14-year sentence in federal prison, was treated "unbelievably unfairly."
“...He was given close to 18 years in prison. And a lot of people thought it was unfair, like a lot of other things — and it was the same gang, the Comey gang and all these sleazebags that did it. And his name is Rod Blagojevich. And I’m thinking about commuting his sentence," Trump said.
The president went on to say he thinks the former governor's wife is "fantastic" and thinks that serving seven years is enough.
Blagojevich has been serving a sentence for charges including wire fraud, extortion and soliciting bribes while governor.
Illinois lawmakers reacted to the news of the former governor being set free. Some state and local political leaders said they weren't pleased.
Also on Thursday, the former Illinois first lady, Patti Blagojevich, responded to Trump's comments.
"Our President's comments on Air Force One last night make us very hopeful that our almost 11 year nightmare might soon be over. We are very grateful," she said in a message posted to social media.
The president also said he and Blagojevich were not friends, even though Blagojevich appeared on Trump's reality show "Celebrity Apprentice."
This isn't the first time Trump publicly dangled the possibly of commuting Blagojevich's sentence. He voiced sympathy for Blagojevich back in 2018. Blagojevich filed paperwork to formally request clemency from Trump in June of that year.
In July 2018, Blagojevich's wife appeared on Fox News, claiming her husband was the victim of a “witch hunt” at the hands of a corrupt Justice Department.
Blagojevich's attorney, Lauren Kaeseberg, said it's time for him to come home.
"Justice is the law tempered by mercy," Kaeseberg said. "Executive clemency exists for a reason. Sometimes the judicial branch gets it wrong. Sometimes the legislators get it wrong."
Supporters in Blogojevich's neighborhood said he's done enough time serving seven years so far.
"He was just a great guy, so he said the wrong thing," Tommy Santella, Blagojevich supporter, said. "We all say the wrong thing!"
Last year, the Supreme Court denied his request for a shorter sentence.
There's no official word on when this could happen. The New York Times reports it could be this week.