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.” Amazon.com Gift Card i... Buy New $25.00 (as of 09:15 EDT - Details)
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.”