The Slatest

Trump Is Considering Commutation for Apprentice Guest Rod Blagojevich, Pardon for Martha Stewart

Rod Blagojevich looks at the camera. Martha Stewart fixes Donald Trump's tie in a separate image.
Rod Blagojevich, Donald Trump, and Martha Stewart. Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Jeffrey Ufberg/WireImage; NBC Universal via Getty Images.

Earlier Thursday, Donald Trump announced that he plans to pardon inflammatory right-wing media figure Dinesh D’Souza for the felony campaign finance fraud conviction that D’Souza pleaded guilty to in 2014. He then told reporters on Air Force One that more executive forgiveness might be in the works, specifically naming Martha Stewart and former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich as potential targets for exoneration.

As was immediately noted by amused/flabbergasted observers online, one of the most prominent things that Stewart and Blagojevich have in common is that they both appeared on Apprentice-branded shows. Blagojevich was a guest on Celebrity Apprentice in 2010 before he began serving a 14-year prison sentence for public corruption convictions. Stewart starred in a short-lived 2005 Apprentice spinoff after serving time in the federal pen for insider trading; for what it’s worth, she had a falling-out with Trump after her show failed.


More substantively, as CBS’ Stefan Becket points out, Stewart was prosecuted by erstwhile U.S. Attorney James Comey, while Blagojevich was prosecuted by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who is now one of Comey’s lawyers. Hmm.

Here’s a transcript of Trump’s remarks to reporters on Air Force One:

I am seriously thinking about—not pardoning—but I am seriously thinking of a curtailment of Blagojevich. … Because what he did does not justify 18 years [sic] 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. …

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.

Ah, yes, jurisprudence’s time-honored “other politicians have said a lot worse” principle. (The “statement” Trump is referring to is presumably Blagojevich’s assertion, which was caught on a wiretap while he was governor, that his right to make a Senate appointment was a “fucking golden” opportunity that he did not plan on squandering for “fucking nothing.”)

In any case, the president’s top criminal justice priority appears to be reversing corruption convictions he remembers from TV news—convictions that were secured by prosecutors he’s currently feuding with. Law and order!