Donald Trump has said the White House is conducting a review that could see the disgraced ex-governor of Illinois Rod Blagojevich having his 14-year prison sentence commuted.
The president made the announcement on Twitter late on Thursday, describing the inmate's sentence as "a very severe one".
Blagojevich was impeached and removed from office in 2009 before being convicted in 2011 of a number of federal corruption charges relating to abuse of power, including soliciting bribes and trying to sell Barack Obama’s Senate seat to the highest bidder after he was elected president in 2008.
In a phone call recorded by the FBI at the time, Blagojevich was heard to say of the opportunity to take Obama's place:
I've got this thing, and it's f***ing golden. I'm just not giving it up for f***ing nothing.
Trump had trailed his announcement in conversation with reporters aboard Air Force One on Wednesday as he returned from Texas to DC, commenting:
I thought he was treated unbelievably unfairly.
His wife I think is fantastic and I’m thinking about commuting his sentence very strongly. I think it’s enough, seven years.
But why is Trump so interested in Blagojevich's case? I hear you ask.
They're friends, of course, the men having met during Trump's tenure as host of The Celebrity Apprentice on NBC.
A glorious resurfaced clip from a 2010 episode of the show - with baseball star Daryl Strawberry, sprinter Michael Johnson, pro wrestler Bill Goldberg and Poison singer Bret Michaels among the candidates - features Trump firing Blagojevich in the board room after he blew an important task with the immortal words:
Your Harry Potter facts were not accurate! Who did the research?
Floundering to defend himself over his abject failure as project manager, Blagojevich blustered his way (wrongly) through the Hogwarts houses:
But it's Slithering and it's Hufflepuff and it's Ravencloth...
Trump wasn't impressed though and dismissed him, even then stressing his "great respect" for the governor.