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May 31, 2018

Prez Trump suggests to reporters there will be more episodes of "Celebrity Clemency"

1527789503108I often come to think of Prez Trump as Huckster-in-Chief or Showman-in-Chief, and his TV salesman tendencies shine through when he teases his own presidential plans like a radio host hoping to keep you tuned in to the next segment.  This morning, as blogged here, the tease was on Twitter in the form of a promise to "be giving a Full Pardon to Dinesh D’Souza."  This afternoon, as detailed in this Fox News piece, the tease was delivered to reporters on Air Force One about more grants of clemency to more high-profile federal felons:

President Trump said Thursday he was considering pardoning or commuting the sentences of Martha Stewart and former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, following his announcement earlier in the day of a full pardon for conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza. The president’s comments came during a gaggle with reporters on Air Force One enroute to Houston, Texas.

Trump called the former governor’s sentence on corruption charges “really unfair” and added that “plenty of other politicians could have said a lot worse.” The president said that Blagojevich said something dumb, but that "lots of politicians" do.

“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,” Trump told reporters. “And if you look at what he said, he said something to the effect like 'what do I get' … stupid thing to say.”

The former Democratic governor, who was a contestant on Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice" in 2010, began his 14-year prison sentence in 2012 after being convicted of corruption. Blagojevich's scheduled release date is in 2024. Blagojevich was governor of Illinois from 2003 to 2009, when he was impeached and convicted on corruption charges over allegations he took bribes for political appointments—including to the open U.S. Senate seat of former President Barack Obama.

Trump suggested he was more interested in “curtailing his sentence” than a full pardon. “I am seriously thinking about – not pardoning – but I am seriously thinking of a curtailment of Blagojevich," Trump said....

“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," Trump said. "But that’s ok I don’t view it that way.”

Stewart was convicted in 2004 of obstructing justice and lying to the government as part of an insider trading case. At the time, former FBI Director James Comey was the federal prosecutor who charged Stewart.

I noted in this post yesterday that Kim Kardashian on Wednesday afternoon was at the White House to speak in person with Jared Kushner and Prez Trump about her interest in seeing a clemency grant for Alice Marie Johnson, a grandmother serving LWOP for non-violent drug offense.  I closed that post by saying "it would be something for Kimme to get clemency relief for a single federal defendant; it would be something special if she could secure clemency relief for a number of individuals." For the record, I was not thinking about Martha Stewart or Rod Blagojevich or Dinesh D’Souza when I made that statement. But, jokes aside, this trio might want to send a thank you note to Kimme because it seems she did something to get Prez Trump's clemency juices flowing.  Now let's all hope these juices flow to the benefit of some non-elites ASAP.

A few prior related posts:

May 31, 2018 at 04:52 PM | Permalink


Trump is correct, Blagojevich's real crime is not what he tried to do but that he was so damn crass about it. It is ok to sell democracy because all politicians do that but it looks bad to be obvious about it, it is the type of thing that even the marks might take notice of and that spoils the game.

@Doug writes, "Huckster-in-Chief or Showman-in-Chief"

Next you'll be telling me that you actually swallowed all that blow about Obama being an agent of Hope and Change.

Democratic politicians are noble souls working for the good of all humanity, Republican politicians are hucksters selling their own daughters to the pedophiles. I get the drift, Doug.

Posted by: Daniel | May 31, 2018 5:49:04 PM

Welcome to the vast left wing conspiracy, Doug. Good wine and croissants over here.

Posted by: Joe | May 31, 2018 6:32:45 PM

To quote the 6th Circuit as to "grandmother" Johnson,
"the jury found that the Government presented sufficient evidence to demonstrate that McDonald, Johnson, McNeil, Lopez, and Valencia participated in a drug trafficking and money-laundering operation which transported cocaine from Houston, Texas and distributed it in Memphis, Tennessee, from 1991 until September, 1994. The jury found that McDonald and Johnson controlled the Memphis end of the conspiracy and directed the distribution of thousands [*4] of kilograms of cocaine, as well as controlling the shipment of millions of dollars of drug proceeds back to Houston to the Colombians who controlled the source of the cocaine."

Given that I have forgotten what little I knew about federal sentencing, I would invite anyone who knows to provide any other information as to why the District Court Judge went to the top of the range and imposed the life sentence on this defendant. In the future, I hope this blog might consider providing a trifle more information as to the underlying facts, rather than a bald statement of "non-violent". In California, we have learned just how meaningless that phrase has become.

Posted by: Cal. Prosecutor | May 31, 2018 7:04:22 PM

Hoping thru this Pardon process that Pres Trump sees how severe the federal drug mandatories really are. Get out if jail early cards, shouldnt be for celebrities or the connected. Should be based on working to better ones self when they get out.

Blago wasnt viewed well by most. Some of the flack is because hes from Illinois where so many politicians got sent to the cross bar hotel..

Lets see what happens, hopefully Change occurs.

Posted by: MidWestGuy | May 31, 2018 7:06:07 PM

D'Souza was the poster child for selective prosecution and for Bharaha to say otherwise is a dirty lie.

Posted by: federalist | May 31, 2018 7:44:34 PM

The three celebrities did not commit any crime. The insider trading of Stewart is an actual favor to investors. Their prosecutions were pretextual. All legal costs should be reimbursed from the assets of the prosecutors.

All tort and criminal immunities should revoked in a constitutional amendment. They should be subject to standards of professional due care. Their conduct qualifies for strict liability, but they are so terrible, such fairness would bankrupt all governments. They are terrible in their rates of false positives, prosecuting innocent people, and especially in their rates of false negatives, failing to prosecute 9 of 10 serious crimes. If you throw in highly lucrative internet crime, it is more like 999,999 out of a million rate of false negatives.

Posted by: David Behar | May 31, 2018 11:23:02 PM

Cal. Prosecutor. I would be interested in the number of competitors Alice Marie Johnson serially killed, and also the number of her customers who died from an overdose.

Has she been trained for a cleaning job, so she can support herself if released? We know she is already a capable CEO of a $multi-million cocaine delivery business. Maybe Bezos is interested in Amazoning that business, as well. He can hire her.

Posted by: David Behar | May 31, 2018 11:27:59 PM

Daniel: I tend to view all politicians in all parties as salesmen and showmen, the the job demands those skills and also attracts those who enjoy the limelight. But Trump still seems uniquely eager to sell and sell and himself (and to lie as part of the sales job, e.g., claiming millions of illegal votes cost him the popular vote).

Cal. Prosecutor: The ACLU has been calling Grandma Johsnon (AMJ) "nonviolent" in their laments over nonviolent federal offenders serving LWOP sentences (https://www.aclu.org/files/assets/aclu-gotlife_atlantic.pdf). You are right, of course, that nonviolent is a label often in the eye of the beholder. In the first of the posts linked above, I linked to some background on AMJ provided by a pro-clemency organization, thought that link mostly stresses her reformation and good works in prison rather than the details of her criminal offenses decades ago. As for why she got an LWOP sentence, I doubt it was because the sentencing judge went to the "top of the range" but rather because the amount of drugs involved and other aggravating factors set her "range" at just LWOP for a first offender. (Under the guidelines, even a defendant with no criminal history who "scores" an offense level of 43 or higher is looking at a guideline "range" of Life. Today, thanks to Booker, a judge has broad discretion to go below that range; but back in the 1990s, the guidelines we still mandatory and the judge would need a special reason to depart.)

Posted by: Doug B | Jun 1, 2018 10:36:11 AM

Dan. Epithets are ad hominem insults by someone upset by the election results. This was the very best first year of any Presidency. What an amazing set of achievements by a non-lawyer.

Posted by: David Behar | Jun 1, 2018 10:59:22 AM

One avenue of re-entry into society is for convicted felons to run for office. Pedophile, rapist, violent white supremacist? No problem. Run for Congress.


Posted by: David Behar | Jun 1, 2018 2:22:31 PM

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