When Donald Trump doesn’t like his media coverage — like today when he reportedly was furious over the reporting on his trips to the sites of this weekend’s mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio — he creates another controversy to change the conversation and take the attention away from his previous outrage.
It’s wise to keep this recurrent tactic in the president’s bag of tricks in mind while reading his latest tweet.
Rod Blagojevich, the former Governor of Illinois, was sentenced to 14 years in prison. He has served 7 years. Many people have asked that I study the possibility of commuting his sentence in that it was a very severe one. White House staff is continuing the review of this matter.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 8, 2019
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For those of you who don’t quite remember the reason why Rod Blagojevich went from the governor’s mansion to prison, it was because of the I-word that Trump hates so much. The former Democratic governor was impeached by the Illinois legislature after he was arrested at his home by federal agents in 2008 and charged with corruption.
The most serious charge against him was that he solicited bribes, trying to profit from policial appointments including the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama when he was elected president which he was accused of attempting to sell off to the highest bidder.
His fate was sealed when the FBI caught Blagojevich on tape saying “I’ve got this thing, and it’s fucking golden. I’m just not giving it up for fucking nothing.”
Trump’s tweet revealing that he is considering a pardon for Blagojevich is a no-risk maneuver for the president.
He doesn’t actually commit to anything, but the audaciousness of the suggestion takes attention away from the even more negative coverage of the president’s rhetoric being complicit in the white supremacist murders in El Paso and of the gunman’s echoing of Trump’s language in his racist manifesto.
Perhaps Trump is regarding Blagojevich’s incarceration as a cautionary tale of a fate that he himself may soon be facing. The very thought of that possibility may have been enough to inspire thoughts of mercy in the president’s twisted logic.
Whatever the real reasons for Trump’s tweet, you can be sure that there is some selfish political motivation that underlies it.
With Trump’s sense of justice leading to pardons of other convicts who have faced charges similar to the accusations lodged against the president himself — such as Scooter Libbey, the former Chief of Staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, convicted of obstruction of justice and perjury and Joe Arpaio the former Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, convicted of contempt of court — his not-too-subtle message to the American public is that these types of crimes are not worthy of a prison sentence.
Sorry, Donald, but you won’t get off that easily.
Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.