Trump Defends Himself by Citing Rod Blagojevich, the Impeached and Imprisoned Illinois Governor

“These prosecutors, with their unchecked power and no oversight at all, can go after any politician.”

Donald Trump

Jacquelyn Martin/AP

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

Former Illinois Governor Rod Blogojevich is currently serving a 14-year federal prison sentence for corruption and bribery, but that didn’t stop President Donald Trump from pointing to the disgraced Democrat’s plight as an example of overreach by federal prosecutors.

Trump tweeted Sunday afternoon that Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum’s interview with Blagojevich’s wife, Patricia, was “required television watching.” Trump also urged his followers to watch a different Fox News segment featuring conservative author Jerome Corsi, who recently filed suit against special counsel Robert Mueller’s office for allegedly blackmailing him to lie in the investigation into Trump.

Given how seldom Trump manages to reach across the aisle, his recommendation of the Blagojevich interview seems especially jarring. During her interview, Blagojevich attempted to draw similarities between her husband’s well-documented efforts to try to sell then-President-elect Barack Obama’s former Senate seat and the breaking revelations about federal investigators’ probe into Trump’s inaugural committee. “It’s a very dirty business when these prosecutors, with their unchecked power and no oversight at all, can go after any politician,” Patricia Blagojevich argued.

Before being sent to prison, Blagojevich was impeached by the Illinois Legislature for trying to sell gubernatorial appointments, including Obama’s Senate seat. “I’ve got this thing, and it’s fucking golden. I’m not going to give it up for nothing,” he said of the seat, as captured on a later released FBI wiretap.

Patricia Blagojevich has been crusading for Trump to issue her husband a pardon; in May, Trump hinted that he’s considering commuting his sentence. If Trump were to do so, it would make the former Illinois governor only the most recent of several political figures—including former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and conservative commentator Dinesh D’Sousa—to be granted clemency by the president.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate