Sprung from prison by President Trump, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has a new political party: He’s a Trumpocrat.
Blagojevich declared his new affiliation Tuesday after walking out of a Colorado prison where he spent the last eight years before Mr. Trump commuted his sentence.
“He’s obviously got a big fan in me,” he told reporters as he arrived back home in Illinois. “If you are asking me what my party affiliation is, I’m a Trumpocrat.”
Blagojevich received a 14-year prison sentence for trying to sell the Senate seat vacated by then-President Barack Obama in 2008.
The former governor said Mr. Trump has his “deepest, most profound and everlasting gratitude.”
“He didn’t have to do this. He’s a Republican president. I was a Democratic governor,” Blagojevich said. “My fellow Democrats have not been very kind to him. In fact, they’ve been very unkind to him.”
Mr. Trump, who announced clemency for 11 people on Tuesday, called Mr. Blagojevich’s punishment excessive.
Blagojevich told WGN-TV he learned of his commutation when other inmates told him they saw it on the news, insisting he “had no inkling it was coming.”
Mr. Trump had said repeatedly in recent years that he was considering taking executive action in Blagojevich’s case, only to back away from the idea.
In reducing the sentence for Blagojevich, who once appeared a contestant on Mr. Trump’s hit reality TV show “The Apprentice,” the president raised doubts about the former U.S. attorney who prosecuted the case in Illinois, Patrick Fitzgerald.
Mr. Fitzgerald is a close friend of former FBI Director James B. Comey, who launched the Russia probe against Trump campaign officials.
“It was a prosecution by the same people — Comey, [Fitzgerald] — the same group,” Mr. Trump told reporters.
The president, who created a furor at the Justice Department last week by criticizing the recommended prison sentence for longtime friend Roger Stone, said the sentence for Blagojevich was “ridiculous.”
• Dave Boyer contributed to this article, which was based in part on wire service reports.