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Rahm says Blago clemency is prelude to another batch of presidential pardons

“My instinct is there will be other controversial pardons and he’s just kind of put some foam on the runway as it relates to those. Because I don’t think he has an empathetic bone in his body,” Emanuel said Tuesday.

Rahm Emanuel, then a congressman, and Rod Blagojevich, then a governor, in 2004.
Rahm Emanuel, then a congressman, and Rod Blagojevich, then a governor, during happier times in 2004.
Sun-Times file photo

Former Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Tuesday Rod Blagojevich “served his time for what he did and his children have suffered long enough.”

But, Emanuel said he views President Donald Trump’s decision to commute the former governor’s sentence as a prelude to another batch of even more controversial presidential pardons, and as a way to soften the blow of what’s coming.

“My instinct is there will be other controversial pardons and he’s just kind of put some foam on the runway as it relates to those. Because I don’t think he has an empathetic bone in his body,” Emanuel said Tuesday.

What other pardons?

“Everybody who was involved — from Roger Stone to Paul Manafort and anybody else. That’s what I think,” said Emanuel, a regular contributor on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”

“He’s not motivated by some generosity of soul. It’s never been manifested or expressed before, and it’s not now. There’s a motivation behind this. ... I’m just guessing. But it’s an assumption that, not less, but more is coming, and more controversy. Therefore, he’s using this to put some foam on the runway.”

Emanuel and Blagojevich were once political allies — close enough that Emanuel asked Blagojevich to appoint a seat warmer to take Emanuel’s place in Congress during his stint as White House chief of staff.

Four days after the 2008 presidential election, Emanuel called then-Gov. Blagojevich to suggest a plan just “between you and I” to appoint then-Cook County Commissioner Forrest Claypool as Emanuel’s temporary successor “in my interest of, uh, you know, having somebody there you know that doesn’t want to make it a lifetime commitment.”

In the conversation, captured by a federal wiretap, Emanuel said Claypool wants to serve only “for like one term or two, max. And then, he wants to go to the cabinet.”

The call ended with Emanuel telling Blagojevich, “I will not forget this. I appreciate it. That’s all I am going to say. I don’t want to go — you and I shouldn’t go farther.”

One day before Blagojevich headed off to prison to begin serving his 14-year sentence, Emanuel said he would have to be “callous” not to sympathize with the family of his former political ally for the “ripping” family tragedy of the former governor’s own making.

“While obviously the judge and the jury have made their decision, anybody, if they haven’t seen a family torn, would be callous” if they didn’t feel compassion for the family, Emanuel said on that day.

“My thoughts are with the rest of the Blagojevich family. Everybody else has made their judgment on the public side. [But] every one of these public sides has a private side. . . . My thoughts are right now with Patti and the kids because this is very ripping.”