Trump considers pardon for Blagojevich

Tonya Becker
June 2, 2018

Of all of the predictably critical reactions to President Donald Trump's pardon of conservative filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza, perhaps the strangest came from former federal ethics officer Walter Schaub, who suggested it should have been done at the end of the chief executive's term.

Regarding Blagojevich, Trump said he was considering commuting his sentence, which he described as "really unfair" punishment for "foolish" behavior.

And the president said he might pardon Martha Stewart, of East Hampton, the food and home decorating author and television personality who served 5 months in prison on a 2004 conviction for securities fraud.

"President Trump told me he felt I had been treated very unfairly and he felt that I was an important voice for America", D'Souza said.

The Democratic former governor was convicted on numerous counts of corruption, including for trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat that was vacated by Obama and for shaking down a children's hospital. He is serving a 14-year sentence. The move makes it ever clearer that, in the Trump administration, the odds of a pardon are better for those with a celebrity backer, those who have become a cause celebre among conservatives and those with a reality TV connection.

Donald Trump pardoned a firebrand conservative author on Thursday and signalled that similar clemency could be on the way for lifestyle guru Martha Stewart, the latest in a series of controversial pardons by the U.S. president. Cohen, meanwhile, is under investigation by federal prosecutors in NY for possible campaign-finance violations and other possible crimes.

"The handful of pardons that President Trump has granted so far may appear to be scattershot, but they're beginning to show a distinct pattern-not just of who he believes is worthy of mercy, but of how he thinks about the justice system as a whole and about his power to bend it to his will", writes the New York Times editorial board today.

"In light of these facts, the President has determined that Mr. D'Souza is fully worthy of this pardon".

Speaking to reporters on Air Force One, Trump complained that Stewart had been "harshly and unfairly treated".

"Trump's action sends yet another unsafe signal that he will abuse his power to protect those who would subvert the rule of law, including the laws that protect the integrity of our democracy from corruption", Flynn said. D'Souza recalled that Obama was "raging" about the movie.

"The president said, 'Dinesh, you have been a great voice for freedom.'" the controversial commentator, who pled guilty in 2014 to making illegal campaign donations, said on Fox News.

He was sentenced to five years of probation.

D'Souza was born in Mumbai and became a naturalised United States citizen in 1991. His 2010 book "The Roots of Obama's Rage" was made into a film, "2016: Obama's America", which was popular with conservative groups.

All the cases have involved public figures or received media attention - from Scooter Libby to former Sheriff Joe Arpaio. He also investigated unfounded claims, supported by Mr Trump, questioning Mr Obama's citizenship. Trump pardoned Libby in April.

Both cases prompted critics to accuse Mr Trump of abusing his pardoning power.

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