Former Governor Rod Blagojevich thanked President Trump for commuting his prison sentence and for his efforts to fix the “broken and racist” criminal justice system in the United States.
“So I again, on behalf of Patti and Amy and Andy and me, we want to again express our deepest gratitude to President Trump,” said Blagojevich during a press conference outside his residence. “Like I said, as a Republican president and a Democratic governor, he didn’t have to do this. But President Trump is not a typical politician. He’s tough. He’s outspoken. He gets things done. He’s a problem solver in a business where too many politicians don’t want to solve problems. All they want to do is play politics and get nothing done for the people.”
Blagojevich described himself as a “Trumpocrat” and would vote for Trump if he could.
“I’m a Trumpocrat. If I had the ability to vote, I would’ve vote for him.”
Blagojevich slammed the Clinton Administration’s passing of the 1994 crime bill which led to a dramatic increase in the incarceration rate in the United States.
Blagojevich said, “Our president is, he’s tough and outspoken and he has the courage to challenge the old way. He’s the one who’s actually fighting to bring real change. That’s why he gets so much pushback. Right now, withstanding being tough, he’s also a man with a kind heart. He seems wrong and he tries to ride it just like he did in the case of Alice Marie Johnson. You know who she is, the grandmother from Alabama who served 21 years in prison on a life sentence as a first time nonviolent drug offender, a life sentence as a first time nonviolent drug offender. Alice Marie Johnson’s case is probably one of the better illustrations that shows how the federal criminal justice system disproportionately discriminates against African-Americans and people of color and have a 1994 Crime Bill has led to the over sentencing and of the creation of what the author, Michelle Alexander, has called the “New Jim Crow” in America.”
Blagojevich’s parents fled communist Yugoslavia and moved to the United States which encouraged him to advocate for criminal justice reform.
“I got into politics to help people,” explained Blagojevich. “I didn’t get into politics to make money. I got into politics to enrich my family or my friends. I got into politics because I was fortunate to live in the greatest country that’s ever existed. My immigrant father fought the Nazis. He spent four years in a prisoner of war camp. After that war, he spent three years in a refugee camp waiting for the day that one day, the Congress. And one day his youngest son would become a member of the pass, a law called the Displaced Persons Act, to allow him and millions of others like him. Immigrants from all around the world. Long and hard to pronounce last names to be able to come to America to pursue freedom and opportunity.”
Blagojevich ended his speech by recalling how his faith kept him alive during the eight years he stayed in federal prison.
“It is so often the case that in the sadness of life, we look for God. My faith in Him turned despair into hope. It made me strong, trusting that one day through the grace of God, He would turn darkness into light.”