The leader of Illinois’ House Republicans blasted the commutation of former governor Rod Blagojevich’s corruption sentence by President Trump on Tuesday.
“This action distracts and also dilutes what I think is the proper role of the Department of Justice: to root out corruption,” said Rep. Jim Durkin, Illinois’ House Minority Leader, in a fiery press briefing filmed and tweeted by a reporter for local CBS affiliate WCIA.
“I don’t agree,” continued Durkin, calling the move “very disappointing.”
Blagojevich — who served as the Democratic governor of the Prairie State from 2003 until his impeachment and removal from office in 2009 — was among several high-profile figures who had their sentences commuted or were pardoned by Trump on Tuesday.
The disgraced pol, 63, was sentenced in 2012 to 14 years at a federal penitentiary in Colorado — thanks in part to Durkin.
“I was involved firsthand with the impeachment efforts and I saw a governor who was rogue on steroids,” he said Tuesday. “He was a person that didn’t care about the state of Illinois. He cared about his own ambition.
“Why should he get special treatment [rather] than some other people that have been sitting in the Department of Corrections for drug offenses?” asked Durkin. “They’re getting 30-, 40-year drug sentences but they’re never going to see the light of day or any type of relief from this president.
“It’s just because of the celebrity of Rod Blagojevich.”
Blagojevich once appeared on Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” reality show on NBC, getting fired by Trump in an April 2010 episode.
Trump on Tuesday said that Blagojevich is serving a “ridiculous sentence” — but Durkin said that the president owes his state a more specific explanation.
“I think he needs to explain to the people of Illinois, who saw a governor destroy the integrity of the office,” he said. “I hope that he can make a plausible explanation of why this is appropriate, because I haven’t seen anything yet.”
Durkin added that the decision may prove costly to Trump at the polls on Election Day.
“I guess he’s not concerned about the state of Illinois for next November,” he said.
Democrat Hillary Clinton carried the state by more than 17 points over Trump in 2016.
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