CHICAGO (AP) – Rod Blagojevich walked out of prison Tuesday after President Donald Trump cut short the 14-year prison sentence handed to the former Illinois governor for political corruption.
The Republican president said the punishment imposed on the Chicago Democrat and one-time contestant on Trump’s reality TV show “Celebrity Apprentice” was excessive.
On Tuesday evening, Blagojevich’s wife, Patti, said on twitter that the former Governor will speak publicly Wednesday morning.
Highlights from imprisoned former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s political career and legal saga:
- 1993: Blagojevich begins a three-year stint as an Illinois state representative.
- 1997: Blagojevich begins a six-year tenure in Congress.
- 2002: Blagojevich, billing himself an anti-corruption candidate, wins the Illinois gubernatorial election.
- June 2004: Influential Republican Stuart Levine resigns from a powerful Illinois health board, marking the first public indication that the Blagojevich administration is under federal investigation.
- June 2006: In a letter, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald says he has witnesses to “very serious allegations of endemic hiring fraud” in the Blagojevich administration.
- October 2006: Antoin “Tony” Rezko, a top Blagojevich fundraiser, is indicted on federal charges of using his political influence to squeeze kickbacks from companies seeking to do business with the state. Businessman Stuart Levine pleads guilty to mail fraud and money laundering as part of the Rezko scheme and agrees to cooperate.
- Nov. 7, 2006: Blagojevich is re-elected.
- Dec. 9, 2007: Federal agents arrest Blagojevich on corruption charges at his Chicago home.
- January 2009: The Illinois House votes 114-1 to impeach Blagojevich, the first Illinois governor in history to be impeached. The Illinois Senate votes unanimously to remove Blagojevich from office.
- April 2, 2009: Blagojevich formally is indicted with five co-defendants – his last chief of staff, John Harris; fundraiser Christopher Kelly; a former chief of staff, Lon Monk; Springfield power broker William F. Cellini; and his brother, Rob Blagojevich.
- Aug. 16, 2010: After deliberating 14 days, a deadlocked jury reaches a verdict on just one count – lying to the FBI. Prosecutors immediately announce in court they will retry Blagojevich. Prosecutors later drop all charges against Rod Blagojevich’s co-defendant brother, Rob Blagojevich.
- June 27, 2011: After nine days of deliberations, jurors find Blagojevich guilty of 18 counts, including allegations that he tried to sell or trade President Barack Obama’s old Senate seat. Jurors reached a not guilty verdict on one count and deadlocked on two others.
- March 2012: Blagojevich reports to Colorado prison to begin a 14-year sentence.
- July 2013: Blagojevich’s lawyers appeal his corruption convictions and prison term.
- July 2015: 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismisses just five of 18 counts and rules prosecutors did not prove Blagojevich broke the law when he tried to get a Cabinet position in President Barack Obama’s administration in exchange for trying to appoint Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett to Obama’s old U.S. Senate seat. Counts in which he sought contributions in exchange for a Senate seat appointment were upheld. Court says Blagojevich can be retried or resentenced on the counts that remain.
- Aug. 9, 2016: After prosecutors decline to retry Blagojevich, trial Judge James Zagel resentences him on the 13 counts that still stand. Even with the reduced number of convictions, Zagel refuses to lower the original 14-year sentence.
- December 2016: Blagojevich submits a request to Obama to have his sentence commuted, but Obama does not act on the request before he leaves office in January 2017. Blagojevich again asks a U.S. appeals court to nullify his 14-year prison term and order a third sentencing hearing.
- April 21, 2017: An appeals court in Chicago rejects the request from Blagojevich for another sentencing hearing.
- May 31, 2018: President Donald Trump says he is thinking about clemency for Blagojevich and Martha Stewart. Both had connections to Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” reality television show.
- April 16, 2018: The U.S. Supreme Court for the second time in two years refuses to hear Blagojevich’s appeal.
- June 5, 2018: Blagojevich’s lawyers file paperwork with the Justice Department asking Trump to commute his sentence.
- Aug. 8, 2019: Trump tweets that the White House is still reviewing the possibility of commuting Blagojevich’s sentence. Trump broaches the issue several times in proceeding months. But amid pushback from Republicans and Democrats, the prospects of a pardon appear to diminish.
- Feb. 18, 2020: Trump commutes the 14-year prison sentence of Blagojevich, calling the sentence “ridiculous.”
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