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Facts mean nothing to Trump in justifying clemency for Blagojevich

What I find most galling about the latest effort to justify President Trump’s decision is his attack on the people involved in investigating and prosecuting Rod Blagojevich.

Ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich
Ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich
AP file photo

The people who put former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich in prison were not “sleazebags.”

Let us at least try to correct the record on that point as the sleaziest president in recent American history threatens yet again to commute the prison sentence of one of the sleaziest governors in Illinois history.

Donald Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One on Wednesday night that Blagojevich has been “treated unbelievably unfairly,” and he thinks the seven years he’s already spent in prison is too much.

We heard this song once previously from the president in May 2018, and then he lost interest for some reason. But I expect he’ll do it this time for reasons that escape me.

My own opinion, oft-stated, is that Blagojevich was treated quite fairly, even if the sentence imposed by U.S. District Judge James Zagel was slightly on the long side.

But what I find most galling about the latest effort to justify Trump’s decision is his attack on the people involved in investigating and prosecuting Blagojevich.

“And it was the same gang — the Comey gang and the — all these sleazebags — that did it,” Trump said.

First off, James Comey did not even hold a government post from 2005 to 2013, which covers the entirety of the Blagojevich investigation. So the former FBI director had nothing to do with it.

It’s true that Comey’s friend, Robert Mueller, was the FBI director during the Blagojevich probe, not that I expect he had any substantive involvement either. The president didn’t mention Mueller, perhaps realizing that opens up a whole can of worms about him denigrating the man whose investigation he says cleared him.

Chicagoans got a chance for themselves to take the measure of former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who was at the helm here during the prosecutions of both Govs. Blagojevich and George Ryan and many others. Most will agree with me that he’s top drawer.

Although not as well known, the line prosecutors who handled the Blagojevich case — Reid Schar, Christopher Niewoehner and Carrie Hamilton — are cut from the same cloth as Fitzgerald.

Like most federal prosecutors, these are honorable people in an honorable profession who take seriously their responsibility to honesty and integrity. They have a moral compass: something Trump and Blagojevich know nothing about.

The same goes for the lead FBI case agents on the Blagojevich case — Daniel Cain and Patrick Murphy — who while not known to me personally, have proved their professionalism through their good work.

Zagel, the judge on the case, also has a long history in public service, which figured strongly in why he took Blagojevich’s crimes as a personal affront.

These are not sleazebags.

Per usual, facts are meaningless to this president.

In arguing for his release, Trump says Blagojevich “was given close to 18 years in prison.”

Actually, he was sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Fourteen. Eighteen. What’s the difference?

Maybe that’s something our president picked up from hanging out with Jeffrey Epstein.

True, 14 is closer to 18 than, let’s say, 10 to 12 years, which I always thought would have been a perfectly fine sentence for Blagojevich, in which case he would still be incarcerated but not for much longer.

They tell you to accept the things in life you cannot change and change the things you can.

And we definitely can’t change whether Trump commutes Blagojevich’s sentence, so there’s no sense letting ourselves get worked up about it.

He’s going to do what he’s going to do, unless one of his FOX television acolytes talks him out of it.

For now, let’s be grateful he’s apparently ruled out an outright pardon that might allow Blagojevich to run for public office here again in the future.