Feb 19, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Freed Blagojevich says he's "profoundly grateful" to Trump

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich arrives home in Chicago from prison after his sentence was commuted by President Trump on Tuesday. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich thanked President Trump from Denver International Airport Tuesday before catching a flight back to Chicago following his release from prison — hours after Trump commuted his 14-year prison sentence for extortion, bribery and corruption.

What he's saying: "I'm profoundly grateful to President Trump and it's a profound and everlasting gratitude," said the former contestant on Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice," who was eight years into his sentence for crimes including seeking to sell an appointment to former President Obama's old Senate seat, to WGN-TV. "He didn't have to do this, he's a Republican president and I was a Democratic governor."

Go deeper: Trump pardons the swamp

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CNN's Cooper scolds Blagojevich in heated exchange over criminal justice reform

CNN anchor Anderson Cooper grilled Rod Blagojevich, who had his prison sentence commuted by President Trump this week, when the former governor of Illinois said on air Friday evening that he supports criminal justice reform after his time in prison.

Why it matters: These heated interactions have grown more common on cable news "in an era of intense political polarization and in an administration defined in part by its overt hostility to the news media. Rarely does a host of Cooper’s stature use such blunt language to criticize a guest, and interviewees seldom respond in kind," the Washington Post writes.

The new not-normal: The Trump state

Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Donald Trump changed how to run for president. Next, he changed the Republican Party. Now, he’s changing the presidency and the boundaries of executive power. 

In the past week, Trump has purged internal dissenters, imported loyalists, pardoned political and financial criminals and continued a running commentary on live Justice Department criminal cases — despite an unprecedented public brushback from his attorney general.

All the Trump associates convicted or sentenced in the Mueller investigation

Graphic: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Longtime Trump associate Roger Stone was sentenced to 4o months in prison for crimes that include obstruction of justice, lying to Congress and witness tampering.

Why it matters: Stone is the seventh person to be convicted and sentenced for crimes unearthed by former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. His case has been at the heart of ongoing tensions between President Trump and his Justice Department.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Feb 20, 2020 - Politics & Policy