President Donald Trump told reporters Thursday that he was considering pardons for former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and TV personality Martha Stewart, according to Politico.
Trump made the comments aboard Air Force One, telling the media he was considering other pardons while he was discussing a recently announced decision to pardon political commentator Dinesh D'Souza.
Blagojevich, a Democrat who was impeached and removed from office due to corruption charges in 2009, is serving a 14-year federal prison sentence and scheduled to be released in 2024.
Stewart, in 2004, was convicted on four counts of obstruction of justice and lying to investigators about selling her stock in ImClone in 2001, a day before the stock tumbled when regulators rejected the company's application for a cancer drug. She was sentenced to five months in prison and five months of home confinement.
Why would he do that?
Trump said the Blagojevich's sentence was too strict, telling reporters his crime did not justify the punishment.
According to a transcript of the remarks posted by New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman:
I'll tell you another one — there is another one I'm thinking about. Rod Blagojevich. Eighteen years in jail for being stupid and saying things that every other politician, you know that many other politicians say.
I am seriously thinking about — not pardoning — but I am seriously thinking of a curtailment of Blagojevich. Because what he did does not justify 18 years in a jail. If you read his statement it was a foolish statement, there was a lot of bravado — but it does not ... plenty of other politicians have said a lot worse. And it doesn't, he shouldn't have been put in jail.
And about Stewart:
And there are others. I think 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. But that's okay, I don't view it that way.
https://t.co/4AHED0PgtM— Maggie Haberman (@Maggie Haberman)1527786123.0
Stewart and Blagojevich have ties to Trump's television career with "The Apprentice." Blagojevich competed on "The Celebrity Apprentice" in 2010, and Stewart starred in "The Apprentice: Martha Stewart," a show for which Trump was the executive producer.
And CNN's Jake Tapper pointed out a thread tying Blagojevich and Stewart to former FBI Director James Comey:
The US Attorneys who brought these cases, respectively: James Comey and Comey’s best friend Patrick Fitzgerald… https://t.co/U2qMfOGGIt— Jake Tapper (@Jake Tapper)1527783424.0
Other Trump pardons
In addition to D'Souza, who was convicted in 2014 of a felony for illegal campaign donations he made in 2012, Trump has also pardoned:
- Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, convicted of criminal contempt of court;
- Former Navy sailor Kristian Saucier, convicted of taking photos in a secure area of a submarine (unauthorized retention of defense information);
- Scooter Libby, former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, convicted of obstruction of justice and false statements; and
- Late boxer Jack Johnson, convicted in 1913 for transporting a white woman across state lines (violating the White Slave Traffic Act)