"I didn't do the things they said I did and they lied on me", Blagojevich, a one-time contestant on Trump's reality TV show "Celebrity Apprentice", told WGN-TV as he walked through the airport greeting travelers who welcomed him home.
He was referring to Patrick Fitzgerald, the former U.S. attorney who prosecuted Blagojevich and now represents former FBI Director James Comey, who Mr Trump fired from the agency in May, 2017. Thankfully, he can't seek state or municipal elected office in IL because he was impeached and convicted. The five Republicans in Illinois' congressional delegation, however, had urged Trump not to commute the former governor's sentence, citing the importance of taking "a strong stand against pay-to-play politics". The White House published a long list of the charitable giving Pogue has made to support Trump's decision to issue the pardon. Blagojevich's sentence, calls it 'ridiculous'. She also posted a photo of herself and others at a White House Christmas party this past December.
Trump has made controversial pardons in the past, particularly within the military.
"He'll be able to go back home with his family after serving eight years in jail", said Trump to reporters. "But I think he's being treated unfairly". He pointed out that in 2018 Trump commuted the sentence of Alice Johnson, who had been imprisoned for 21 years due to her involvement with a cocaine trafficking group in Tennessee.
It is true, of course, that in many cases Republican criticism has been muted, or in other cases sharp criticism isn't matched by votes.
Milken's advocates, for example, included all of the above - along with the president's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani.
Several prominent Democrats have also lobbied for a shortened sentence, arguing that Blagojevich's punishment was too severe.
During the event in Chicago, the president fired off a tweet about Blagojevich, saying Blagojevich paid "a big price" for his convictions.
Blagojevich planned to speak to the media around 11 a.m. Wednesday.
His convictions included trying to shake down a children's hospital and lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Trump has his "deepest, most profound and everlasting gratitude".
He had been required to serve at least 12 years of his sentence under federal rules before the commutation - which would have been March 13, 2024 if Blagojevich continued to have good behavior in prison, according to Federal Bureau of Prisons records. "I was a Democratic governor", Blagojevich explained. "And they lied on me".