Blagojevich, who Chicago Magazine characterized as “real-life cartoon character, popular culture’s best example of a bombastic, narcissistic, devious politician since the fictional Senator Claghorn,” served 7.5 years of a 14-year sentence in a Colorado federal prison after being impeached and accused of trying to sell former President Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat while he was governor, among other charges.
“He charmed everyone but the General Assembly that impeached him and the jury that convicted him at his federal trial,” Chicago Magazine reported.
The main charges surrounding the accusation were eventually vacated by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, though his sentence remained notably lengthy, and his request for Supreme Court review of his case was rejected twice. Former President Trump was his final hope, and in a highly controversial move, Trump commuted his sentence. Blagojevich went home on February 18, 2020 to his wife and children, and his supervised release officially ended in June 2021.
Blagojevich, whose story has regained public interest partly because of the release of Hulu’s new four-part miniseries Being Blago, was the speaker at the Arts and Ideas Exchange Speakers Series on Wednesday night at the Railway Exchange Building in Chicago, Illinois, the city where he grew up. In front of a room full of seated, attentive dinner guests in a hall laden with Christmas trees, red ribbons, and wreaths, the ex-governor blasted Pritzker for reportedly calling Trump “not once, but twice” requesting to keep him behind bars.
“J.B. called Trump not once, but twice, joining with most Republicans to say, ‘Keep him in, don’t let him out. Keep him in, don’t let him out,’” he told the attendees, his voice echoing and his hands moving excitedly as he recounted the story.
“….Why did he do it? ” he continued, before foreshadowing his willingness to expose the underbelly of his former party:
I truly believe its because J.B. Pritzker, Governor Pritzker and some of the Democratic political establishment is very fearful. They’re very fearful of what I know, and what I can say, and what I’m likely to say, and what I will say soon. That’s why I think that he did that.
Former Gov. @realBlagojevich tells audience in Chicago that the idea that he would try and sell Obama’s high profile Senate seat and get away with it is preposterous. Said if he wanted to sell the Senate seat, JB Pritzker is your guy. pic.twitter.com/298EAGNv2X
— Mark Vargas (@MarkAVargas) December 2, 2021