Former Illinois Gov. Blagojevich Is Disbarred After Trump Commutation

May 19, 2020 Updated: May 19, 2020

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was disbarred on May 18, more than two months after his prison sentence was commuted by President Donald Trump.

The Illinois Supreme Court said in a brief ruling that it was upholding a decision by the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission.

“Respondent Rod R. Blagojevich is disbarred,” the order stated.

The Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission recommended in March that Blagojevich be disbarred, noting he was convicted of committing a number of crimes while governor.

“As a former Assistant State’s Attorney and elected official, Respondent was well aware of his obligation to uphold the law, and, as governor, he took an oath to faithfully discharge the duties of the office of governor to the best of his ability. Instead of doing so, he sought to further his own interests by engaging in a pattern of dishonest and deceptive conduct,” the group wrote in the recommendation.

Rod Blagojevich
Convicted former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich walks through a horde of media toward his house before giving a news conference outside his home in Chicago, on March 14, 2012. (Frank Polich/Getty Images)

Blagojevich was convicted in 2011 in Chicago on 17 counts, including an attempt to sell former President Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat that was vacated when he was elected in 2008.

The remainder of the 14-year sentence was dissolved with Trump’s commutation.

The White House said that the move came after people “from across the political spectrum and from varied backgrounds” expressed support for shortening the sentence, including Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Eric Holder, the attorney general under Obama.

Blagojevich demonstrated “exemplary character” while in jail, tutoring and teaching GED classes and speaking to prisoners about their civic duties, the statement said.

Blagojevich, whose law license was suspended in 2011, previously told CBS 2 that he wasn’t interested in the pending decision, comparing himself to a pilot who hadn’t flown for a long time.

“How would you like to get onto a plane with a pilot who hasn’t flown a plane for 25 years? I don’t want to hurt anybody. It’s been a long, long time. So, whatever happens, will happen. I’m certain that whatever they end up doing will not put me in a position to ever again handle a legal case in” the nearby courthouse, he said.

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