Washington (CNN)Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Friday declared himself a “political prisoner” in a contentious interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper over the substantial evidence prosecutors used to convict him on a host of public corruption charges.
Blagojevich’s sentence was commuted earlier this week by President Donald Trump after the Democrat and former “Celebrity Apprentice” contestant had served eight years of a 14-year sentence for pay-for-play crimes.
Blagojevich on Friday defiantly rebuked critics of his commutation, who have pointed to the considerable charges that landed him in prison.
“I don’t think they’ve looked carefully because I am a political prisoner,” he said.
Cooper challenged Blagojevich’s label, noting that Nelson Mandela, the former President of South Africa who had earlier been imprisoned for 27 years for fighting apartheid, was a political prisoner.
That prompted Blagojevich to claim: “If you were to ask Nelson Mandela whether he thought the process was fair back in the early ’60s in South Africa, he would say what I’m saying today.”
At one point, Blagojevich blamed “a handful of corrupt prosecutors” for his prison sentence.
“They’re uncontrolled and they’re the ones Chief Justice Breyer talked about when he said our country is in trouble because of these uncontrolled prosecutors who can do just about anything they want to do and are using their power to go after government officials for what are — what he called routine practices, and that’s what I went to prison for.”
During his t