WASHINGTON — Ex-Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., on a national media blitz to promote a book of letters his mother, Jacqueline, wrote to him while in prison, in a new twist is blaming his troubles on an over-zealous Robert Mueller.
“Robert Mueller was the head of the FBI during my investigation,” Jackson told CNN anchor Victor Blackwell on Saturday. “And he is relentless. If he doesn’t find something here, he looks for something in another place.”
Perhaps, in invoking Russia probe Special Counsel Mueller, Jackson is looking for a pardon from President Donald Trump.
Trump has said he is open to giving breaks to people — including imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich — that he sees as being treated unfairly by the criminal justice system. Mueller was the FBI director when FBI agents were investigating Blagojevich, who was arrested in December 2008.
Jackson and ex-wife Sandi, a former 7th Ward alderman, pleaded guilty in August 2013 to looting $750,000 from congressional campaign funds.
Blagojevich’s corruption earned him 14 years — but he was never charged with taking a dime. Jackson stole $750,000 and only served 23 months of a 30-month sentence, shaved most likely because of good behavior and completion of a substance-abuse program.
This is the first time Jackson is complaining in public about Mueller or an overreaching prosecution. The environment this year is different, with Trump’s relentless, ongoing attacks on the legitimacy of Mueller’s investigations.
Jackson’s downfall started with his maneuvering to push Blagojevich to appoint him to the Illinois Senate seat being vacated by President Barack Obama, drawing him in to the FBI Chicago-based probe. Jackson was never charged with anything Blagojevich related.
Prosecutors in Washington filed the charges against Jesse and his former wife, Sandi. The exact origins of this case have never been disclosed.
On “The View,” Jackson said, “When I had campaigned for Barack Obama across the country in his first campaign I thought I was a logical successor to the United States Senate. Between 2001 and 2013 the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigations was Robert Mueller.
“And while I had done nothing wrong in the Senate campaign his investigation continued into that which I had done wrong.”
Jackson and his mother have been doing joint interviews to boost “Loving You, Thinking of You, Don’t Forget to Pray: Letters to My Son in Prison,” published last Tuesday, a collection culled from the almost daily letters she sent to her son.
“Sometimes I questioned God. But I never questioned my mother. Only Mom’s love could resonate through these most harrowing and turbulent times of my life,” wrote Jackson, the son of civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., in the foreword of the book.
Until surfacing last week, Jackson has been out of the public eye since his very messy divorce with Sandi was finalized last April.
Jackson and his mother so far have done interviews on ABC’s “The View,” CBS’ “This Morning” and with CNN on Saturday. On Sunday, their taped segment with Rev. Al Sharpton on his MSNBC show will be televised.
In the CBS interview, Jackson tried to downplay his stealing, calling the wild spending “expenses” the government “concluded that were not justifiable.”
Jackson is entitled to a path towards redemption, a new chapter, a second chance, maybe even a TV show or a podcast, if anyone wants to hear from him.
He is not entitled to a rewrite of his shopping list.
The Jacksons’ personal spending included $4,600 for Michael Jackson’s fedora; a $43,000 Rolex; a $1,200 mink parka; thousands of dollars for Bruce Lee and Jimi Hendrix memorabilia and $5,000 for a football signed by American presidents.
Jackson has been battling severe mental health problems for years. He resigned from Congress in November 2012. In 2017, I reported Jackson was getting $124,052 per year in workers compensation and Social Security Disability benefits for himself. The nature of Jackson’s congressional job-related injury has never been disclosed.
“Everyone hits a bump in the road at some point,” wrote Jacqueline Jackson in a September 2014 letter to buck up her son. “They may stumble and may fall down. But the good that is done remains.”