President Donald Trump on Thursday said he was considering commuting former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s prison sentence and pardoning celebrity chef Martha Stewart, according to a pool report (read it below).
He announced earlier in the day that he would pardon Dinesh D’Souza, the conservative troll who pleaded guilty in 2014 to a felony campaign finance violation.
Blagojevich was sentenced to serve 14 years in prison in 2011 after being convicted of corruption charges, including trying to sell the Senate seat made vacant by former President Barack Obama’s election.
“I’ve got this thing and it’s fucking golden,” Blagojevich said at one point in a wiretapped conversation used as evidence by prosecutors. “And I’m just not giving it up for fucking nothing.”
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed Monday, Blagojevich argued that “[s]ome in the Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation are abusing their power to criminalize the routine practices of politics and government.”
Stewart (and her stockbroker, Peter Bacanovic) served a five-month sentence in 2004 for lying to investigators about a stock sale.
Read the pool report below:
Air Force One touched down in Houston at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Bass at 10:47 a.m. local time.
Toward the end of the flight, President Trump did a 34-minute off the record, the last portion of which was on the record regarding pardons. Full transcript of that part to come, but Trump said he is strongly considering a commutation of the rest of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s sentence. Bragging about getting something back for a Senate appointment, Trump said, was “a stupid thing to say—but 18 years?”
He also said the case of Martha Stewart has crossed his mind. Hogan Gidley also told the pool after the OTR that Trump said the pardon of Jack Johnson has been the most important to him of those given so far.
Pool is now deplaning and will be motorcading to Coast Guard Air Station Houston, where he is schedule to meet with Santa Fe members and community leaders. According to today’s schedule, the meeting is closed to all press but we will ask for a readout and pass along any information that is provided.
Pooler Eli Stokols sent the following email with a partial transcript:
As we wait, here is, courtesy of co-pooler Maggie Haberman, a transcript of the on the record portion of Trump’s conversation with reporters on Air Force One related to pardons. Trump made the comments as the plane was descending into Houston. He sat behind his desk inside a front cabin where he had a television on Fox News (muted) and a glass of Diet Coke in front of him. Kellyanne Conway, Johnny DiStefano and Hogan Gidley were also in the cabin, as was Jordan Karem for part of the time.
Q: You pardoned someone? (Dinesh D’Souza)
Trump: “Only because, only because of I felt from 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.”
“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.”
“I always felt that he was … I didn’t know him
“I read the papers – I see him on television.”
“I’ll tell you another one … there’s another one that I’m thinking about. Rod Blagojevich. 18 years in jail for being stupid and saying things that every other politician, you know that many other politicians say.
“And If you look at what he said he said something to the effect like what do I get … stupid thing to say. But he’s sort of saying .. he’s gonna make a US senator which is a very big deal. And it was foolish … 18 years now. I don’t know him other than that he was on The Apprentice for a short period of time.”
“18 years is I think really unfair. It’s a Democrat. You know D’Souza’s a Republican. And I’m seriously thinking about it.
“I am seriously thinking about – not pardoning – but I am seriously thinking of a curtailment of Blagojevich”
Reporter provides the word commutation.
“Because what he did does not justify 18 years in a jail. If you read his statement it was a foolish statement there was a lot of bravado … but it does not .. plenty of other politicians have said a lot worse. And it doesn’t, he shouldn’t have been put in jail.
And he’s a Democrat. He’s not my party. But I thought that he was treated unfairly.”
Trump said he spoke to D’Souza “for three minutes last night…he almost had a heart attack.”
“And there are others. I think 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. But that’s ok I don’t view it that way.”
Correction: This post initially referred to the former Illinois governor as Rob Blagojevich. His name is Rod. TPM regrets the error.