Trump considering clemency for Blagojevich, Stewart

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President Trump on Thursday said he is considering commuting the sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) and pardoning TV personality Martha Stewart.
Trump’s comments come hours after he pardoned conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza, who pleaded guilty to a felony campaign finance violation. Last week, the president offered a posthumous pardon for the boxer Jack Johnson.  
{mosads}Trump told reporters in his private cabin aboard Air Force One he believes Blagojevich was “being stupid” but added that “every other politician” has done it and that his sentence is excessive.
“Eighteen years is, I think, really unfair,” Trump said, misstating the length of his prison term. “It’s a Democrat. You know D’Souza’s a Republican. And I’m seriously thinking about it.”
Blagojevich was removed from office and convicted of a wide array of corruption charges, including trying to sell Barack Obama’s Senate seat after he was elected president in 2008. Blagojevich began serving a 14-year prison sentence in 2012.
He appeared on Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” reality TV show in 2010, but Trump said he doesn’t know him outside that appearance. 
Stewart was convicted in 2004 for lying to federal investigators about suspected securities fraud and served time in federal prison. She also has ties to Trump through “The Apprentice,” having hosted a spinoff in 2005.
“Martha Stewart was harshly and unfairly treated,” the president said. “And she used to be my biggest fan in the world … before I became a politician.”
The lifestyle guru was photographed last year giving the middle finger to a photo of Trump.  
Critics say Trump’s pardon process, which has taken place outside traditional Justice Department channels, is a means to undermine law enforcement at a time when he is facing increased scrutiny in the Russia investigation. 
Blagojevich’s case was prosecuted by then-U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who has close ties to former FBI Director James Comey, whom Trump fired last year.
Special counsel Robert Mueller is looking into Comey’s firing as part of his probe into whether Trump attempted to obstruct the investigation into possible links between his campaign and Russia’s election meddling in 2016. 
Comey prosecuted Stewart’s case when he was the lead federal prosecutor in New York City. 
Blagojevich recently wrote an op-ed that could appeal to the president, who has repeatedly said he was well within his rights to fire Comey. 
“Some in the Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation are abusing their power to criminalize the routine practices of politics and government,” Blagojevich wrote this week in The Wall Street Journal.
Updated at 1:17 p.m.
Tags Barack Obama Clemency Donald Trump Illinois James Comey Pardon presidential pardon Robert Mueller White House
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