National Post (Latest Edition)
Martha Stewart? Your presidential pardon could be arriving soon.
WASHINGTON • President Donald Trump said Thursday he’s considering pardoning lifestyle entrepreneur Martha Stewart, who served a stint in federal prison after being convicted of charges related to a stock sale, and commuting the sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was convicted of corruption.
Hours earlier, Trump said on Twitter that he will pardon conservative commentator and Obama critic Dinesh D’Souza, who pleaded guilty to campaign finance fraud. The White House announced later Thursday that the pardon had been granted.
As he left Washington to fly to Texas, Trump tweeted: “Will be giving a Full Pardon to Dinesh D’Souza today. He was treated very unfairly by our government!” D’Souza, an outspoken critic of former president Barack Obama, had claimed that his prosecution by the Obama Justice Department was politically motivated, but the presiding federal judge said D’Souza had failed to prove it.
Trump later shared his thoughts on Blagojevich and Stewart with the reporters accompanying him on Air Force One. Both had connections to Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice reality television show: Blagojevich had been a contestant in 2010 and Stewart hosted the 2005 spinoff series, The Apprentice: Martha Stewart.
Stewart was convicted in 2004 of obstructing justice and lying to the government about why she unloaded stock just before the price plummeted. She served five months in prison.
“I think to a certain extent Martha Stewart was harshly and unfairly treated. She used to be my biggest fan in the world,” Trump said.
The federal prosecutor who oversaw Stewart’s case in New York was James Comey, the man he fired as FBI director last year.
The prosecutor who led the case against Blagojevich in Chicago was Patrick Fitzgerald, a Comey friend who is also his lawyer. Fitzgerald was also the special counsel leading the case against Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the Bush administration official pardoned by Trump last month.
Blagojevich, who was convicted on numerous counts of corruption, including for trying to sell Obama’s former U.S. Senate seat, began serving a 14-year prison sentence in 2012. He is scheduled for release in 2024.
“What he did does not justify 18 years in jail,” Trump said. “If you read his statement, it was a foolish statement with a lot of bravado. Plenty of other politicians have said a lot worse. He’s a Democrat, he’s not in my party, but I thought he got treated unfairly.” The top court has twice turned down appeals from Blagojevich, most recently in April.
That appeal turned in part on the length of Blagojevich’s prison term. Trump’s Justice Department urged the court to reject the appeal.