Rod Blagojevich Verdict: Cable News Pundits Weigh In (Video)
The experts are split on how harsh the one-time “Celebrity Apprentice” contestant’s prison sentence will be after being convicted of trying to sell or trade President Obama’s former Senate seat.
Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich – who also once competed on Donald Trump’s The Celebrity Apprentice – was convicted Monday by a jury of trying to sell or trade President Obama’s former Senate seat as well as 16 other corruption charges.
The verdict came as the Chicago jurors deliberated for nine days at Blagojevich’s retrial.
The cable news pundits immediately hit the airwaves to weigh in.
On CNN’s The Situation Room, CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin told host Wolf Blitzer that he wasn’t surprised by the verdict – in fact he was more surprised when Blagojevich didn’t get convicted the first time around in and earlier trial.
“What makes it worse for him this time is he testified, so the judge is going to see that Blagojevich testified for seven days, and the jury didn’t believe him,” Toobin argued. “Judges don’t like lying defendants. That’s why most witnesses don’t take the the witness stand.”
He predicted the judge might give him “a long time in prison” – eight or 10 years.
“There are no mandatory sentencing times, so it’s really all up to the judge, and Blagojevich is in a world of trouble,” Toobin added.
Fox News legal analyst Arthur Aidala and criminal defense attorney Randy Zelin also debated how long Blagojevich’s sentence might be on Shepard Smith’s Fox News Channel show Studio B.
Aidala argued that Blagojevich is going to get punished severely.
“I’d be surprised if the judge does not remind him considering the time he’s facing … All of these counts, these main counts that could send him to jail for life, have to do with giving Valerie Jarrett the Senate seat,” he added, noting that Jarrett is close with Obama, now serving as a senior adviser to the president.
“Appointing someone of Jarrett’s stature to a Senate seat, no one would look against that,” Aidala continued. “What happens under the table, the money he would get, the personal favors that the jury says he wanted. … The game’s over, the circus is over, he’s going to be put in handcuffs almost immediately. He’s going to be put down in some basement.”
But Zelin disagreed.
“He’s not going to be remanded,” he predicted. “He’s sat through two trials. He’s not a flight risk, and there’s absolutely no reason to lock him up now. … Prediction 2: He walks out of a federal prison camp on his own two feet. I don’t believe he’s looking at a lengthy sentence. He’s looking at less than 10 years.”
Blagojevich competed on NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice in spring 2010. He was fired in the fourth episode.
He also tried to make a deal to compete on NBC’s I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here! In 2009 but couldn’t get a judge to waive his travel restrictions. His wife, Patti, competed instead, placing fourth.