Trump could commute Blagojevich’s term, pardon Stewart
Washington – President Donald Trump on Thursday pardoned a conservative commentator he claims “was treated very unfairly by our government!” and announced he’s thinking about clemency for Martha Stewart and former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, among “lots” of other people.
“What they did to him was horrible,” Trump told reporters, speaking of his decision to clear the name of Dinesh D’Souza, who had pleaded guilty to campaign finance fraud.
It was the latest example of Trump trying to right a perceived wrong with his presidential pardon power.
Trump has been particularly drawn to cases where he believes there was a political motivation to the prosecutions – a situation that may remind him of his own predicament at the center of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election meddling.
On Thursday, Trump said he was seriously considering commuting the sentence of Blagojevich, the Democratic former governor serving a 14-year prison sentence on numerous counts of corruption, including trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat that was vacated by Barack Obama. The president also said he was considering a pardon for Stewart, the celebrity lifestyle guru who served a stint in federal prison after being convicted of charges related to a stock sale.
Both had connections to Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” reality television show: Blagojevich was a contestant in 2010 and Stewart hosted the 2005 spinoff series, “The Apprentice: Martha Stewart.”
Hours earlier, Trump said on Twitter he would pardon D’Souza. An outspoken critic of Obama, D’Souza claimed his prosecution by the Obama Justice Department was politically motivated.
Trump told reporters Thursday that no one asked him to pardon D’Souza, whose case had become a cause in conservative circles. D’Souza was sentenced to five years’ probation in 2014 after pleading guilty to violating federal election law by making illegal contributions to a U.S. Senate campaign in the names of others.
Trump is not the only president to draw flak for his pardon decisions. Former President Bill Clinton ignited a major controversy with a last-minute pardon for fugitive financier Marc Rich, the ex-husband of a major Democratic fundraiser.
N. Koreans to meet Trump
A top aide to Kim Jong Un will make a rare visit to Washington Friday to hand a letter from the North Korean leader to President Donald Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said after reporting “good progress” in talks between the two sides to revive an on-again, off-again nuclear summit.
“I am confident we are moving in the right direction,” Pompeo told reporters at a news conference in New York after meeting Thursday with former North Korean military intelligence chief Kim Yong Chol. “Our two countries face a pivotal moment in our relationship, and it would be nothing short of tragic to let this opportunity go to waste.”
He would not say that the summit is a definite go for Singapore on June 12 and could not say if that decision would be made after Trump reads Kim Jong Un’s letter.