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

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.