The Wall Street Journal has published a major new report about how Republican operative Mark Vargas used President Donald Trump's hatred of former special counsel Robert Mueller to wage a years-long public relations battle that culminated in the release of infamously corrupt former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
According to WSJ, Vargas helped get Trump to commute Blagojevich's sentence by writing opinion pieces that cast the former governor as a victim of a "deep state" conspiracy led by Mueller and former FBI Director James Comey.
He started by writing an editorial for the conservative Washington Examiner website with the headline, "How Robert Mueller and James Comey’s Best Friend Sent Rod Blagojevich to Prison," and then moved to get Blagojevich's wife, Patti Blagojevich, to appear on Fox News programs that he knew the president would be watching.
The finishing touch, according to WSJ, was recruiting the Rev. Jesse Jackson to lobby the president on Blagojevich by tying his release to efforts to reform the criminal justice system that has put so many black Americans behind bars.
Blagojevich, who was impeached for allegedly extorting the Chicago Tribune unless it fired writers who were critical of his administration, was convicted in 2011 on 17 different corruption charges that included charges of wire fraud, extortion, and bribery.
Blagojevich spent the past eight years behind bars after he was sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2012. In between his impeachment and his imprisonment, Blagojevich also was a contestant on Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” reality TV show, where the future president would fire him for his insufficient knowledge of “Harry Potter” lore.