- President Donald Trump on Thursday said he was considering using his power to pardon to grant clemency for Martha Stewart and former Gov. Rod Blagojevich of Illinois.
- Stewart served five months in prison after being convicted in 2004 of obstruction of justice and lying to investigators, and Blagojevich is serving a 14-year prison sentence for corruption.
- Earlier Thursday, Trump tweeted that he was pardoning the conservative pundit Dinesh D’Souza.
- Trump has so far granted just four other pardons and one sentence commutation.
President Donald Trump told reporters he was considering pardoning Martha Stewart and commuting the sentence of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich of Illinois in a string of clemency announcements he unexpectedly made Thursday.
A jury found Stewart guilty in 2004 of obstructing justice and lying to investigators about the reasons she sold shares of a company. She served five months in prison.
Blagojevich is serving a 14-year prison sentence after being convicted of corruption stemming from a scheme to sell the Senate seat left vacant by Barack Obama, who was elected president in 2008. Blagojevich is not eligible for release until 2024.
According to White House pool reports, Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One on Thursday that Blagojevich’s sentence was excessive and that bragging about receiving a reward for a Senate appointment was “a stupid thing to say” but that “lots of politicians have said a lot worse.”
“What he did does not justify 18 years in a jail,” Trump said. “And he’s a Democrat. He’s not my party. But I thought that he was treated unfairly.”
Trump added: “To a certain extent, Martha Stewart was harshly and unfairly treated. And she used to be my biggest fan in the world … before I became a politician.”
Stewart and Blagojevich have connections to Trump through his former career as a reality-TV star. Stewart hosted a spinoff of Trump’s “The Apprentice” series, and Blagojevich competed on Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” show in 2010.
Earlier Thursday, Trump said on Twitter he was pardoning Dinesh D’Souza, the far-right political pundit who pleaded guilty in 2014 to campaign-finance fraud.
“I don’t know him. I never met him. I called him last night – first time I’ve ever spoken to him. I said, ‘I’m pardoning you.’ Nobody asked me to do it,” Trump later told reporters, adding that D’Souza nearly had a “heart attack” during their three-minute phone conversation.
Trump continued: “I’ve always felt he was very unfairly treated. And a lot of people did. A lot of people did. What should have been a quick minor fine, like everybody else with the election stuff … what they did to him was horrible.”
How Trump has used his power to pardon so far
Trump has granted only four other pardons and one sentence commutation in his presidency. Several have gone to his political allies after shoring up significant support for their cases among fellow conservatives.
Last August, Trump pardoned Joe Arpaio, the bombastic former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, who was convicted of criminal contempt for violating a court order for his department to stop racially profiling Latinos. Arpaio was a vocal Trump supporter throughout the 2016 campaign and often parroted Trump’s hardline stance on immigration.
In March, Trump pardoned Kristian Saucier, a former Navy sailor who took photos of classified areas inside a nuclear submarine. Several conservative media outlets had compared Saucier’s case with that of Hillary Clinton, who used a private email server while she was secretary of state but wasn’t prosecuted.
Last month, Trump pardoned Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the former Bush administration official convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice.
Last week, Trump granted a posthumous pardon to Jack Johnson, the heavyweight boxing champion who was convicted of taking his white girlfriend across state lines in 1913; Johnson died in 1946. Johnson’s case was recommended to Trump by the actor Sylvester Stallone, who was in the Oval Office when Trump signed the pardon.
Kim Kardashian West visited Trump in the Oval Office on Wednesday to discuss prison and sentencing reform and encourage him to commute the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, a 63-year-old grandmother, though Trump hasn’t yet said anything about the case.