WASHINGTON – White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders on Tuesday said President Donald Trump is still weighing granting clemency to imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Sanders was asked about Blagojevich after Trump last week said he was mulling giving a commutation to Blagojevich, serving a 14-year sentence on federal corruption charges.
“The president has not made a formal decision on that,” she said, adding that Trump will not be paying much attention to critics of letting Blagojevich out of prison years early.
“As you know, the president does not base his formal decisions off of criticism of others, but on what he thinks is the right decision to make and that is what he will base it on.”
Her comments came on the day that Blagojevich refiled a formal clemency request with the Department of Justice Office of the Pardon Attorney.
A White House official, not Sanders, told the Chicago Sun-Times that the recommendations from Justice will not be the last word in determining what Trump will do and that the White House will conduct its own inquiry.
Trump said last week he is considering clemency for others, including home living author and personality Martha Stewart.
The cases Trump is interested in “will be routed through White House counsel” where “they go through a process where the merits of the matter and other things are evaluated” as part an “ongoing discussion.”
The Trump White House official said there “may consult” with the Department of Justice and called the work of the pardon attorney office “a procedural process.”
As for granting clemency for Blagojevich, Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Ill., told the Sun-Times in a statement, “Pardons are to be used sparingly and in extraordinary circumstances. As a State Senator during the impeachment proceedings, I listened to all the arguments and don’t believe a pardon is appropriate in this situation.”
Sen. Dick Durbin D-Ill., said he would back a grant of clemency from Trump for Blagojevich, in prison since 2011.