President Donald Trump raised eyebrows this week when he commuted the sentences of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, resulting in his release from prison.
Blagojevich infamously attempted to sell the vacant Senate seat left open by the election of President Barack Obama to President of the United States. Recorded calls showed Blagojevich saying he wouldn't give the seat away "for nothing."
Blagojevich resigned as Governor and—after a brief stint on Celebrity Apprentice—was convicted and sentenced to 14 years in prison.
Trump recently tweeted in defense of the commutation, but it only raised more questions.
Rod Blagojevich did not sell the Senate seat. He served 8 years in prison, with many remaining. He paid a big price… https://t.co/CYfmtb44FT— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1582134362.0
Blagojevich was arrested before he could sell the seat, but it doesn't take a lawyer to know that a failure to commit a crime doesn't clear someone from attempting to commit the crime in the first place.
The tweet mirrored a similar defense repeatedly put forth by Republican members of Congress during the impeachment proceedings against the President. Trump's allies said that since the aid to Ukraine went through without its President having to announce an investigation into the Bidens, Trump didn't commit a crime.
People noticed that this defense seems to keep coming up in Trump's orbit.
The president seems to be genuinely unaware that conspiracy to commit a crime is, itself, still a crime even if you… https://t.co/BDjfOVRkx4— Bradley P. Moss (@Bradley P. Moss)1582136550.0
Can someone explain to this guy that attempting to commit crimes is still a crime? https://t.co/hRhqBe51FX— Brian Tyler Cohen (@Brian Tyler Cohen)1582136358.0
Blagojevich was arrested before he could make the appointment. It's kind of like if you were doing something quest… https://t.co/0imsLcQJc1— Aaron Blake (@Aaron Blake)1582134703.0
Blagojevich "did not sell the Senate seat," POTUS says But he TRIED to, see below: "conspiring to trade the senate… https://t.co/hVFDJNiAsk— Jake Tapper (@Jake Tapper)1582135594.0
TRUMP: "Attempted murder can't be a crime. You missed who you were shooting at!" https://t.co/6LLWTKX9OJ— Tea Pain (@Tea Pain)1582138503.0
He didn't sell the seat because he got caught, like how you got caught. https://t.co/eoSuVQCSKF— Christopher Bouzy (@Christopher Bouzy)1582139331.0
Blago didn't sell the seat in the same way that Trump didn't manage to get Zelensky to announce the Biden investiga… https://t.co/9wujCSIqMq— emptywheel (@emptywheel)1582134865.0
Trump also erroneously claimed in the tweet that Blagojevich's sentence was a product of former FBI Director and Trump nemesis James Comey.
Comey wasn't even in the Justice Department at the time.