Trump mulls legal moves for Blagojevich, Martha Stewart, Dinesh D’Souza – Government News

on May31

31 May 2018 | 3:00 pm

(Bloomberg) — President Donald Trump said Thursday is considering commuting the sentence of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. He also said he will issue a full pardon to conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza, and is considering pardoning Martha Stewart.

The president said during a flight aboard Air Force One that he’s strongly considering a commutation of the rest of Blagojevich’s sentence. The former governor is serving a 14-year prison sentence on corruption charges including soliciting campaign contributions and other payments in return for the promise of official favors.

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The ex-governor’s wife, Patti Blagojevich, released a statement in the wake of Trump’s remarks: “Amy, Annie and I are very encouraged by the President’s comments today. He’s given us something that has been hard to come by recently: Hope. From the beginning, we’ve eagerly awaited the day when Rod could come back home where he belongs, and we continue to pray our family will be made whole again soon.”

Stewart, the businesswoman famous for her lifestyle brand, served a five-month prison sentence and five months of house arrest for lying to federal investigators about a stock sale.

D’Souza pleaded guilty in 2014 to making illegal political contributions to a U.S. Senate campaign. “Will be giving a Full Pardon to Dinesh D’Souza today,” Trump said in a tweet. “He was treated very unfairly by our government!”

Trump didn’t elaborate on how the government had wronged D’Souza, who admitted that he had close associates contribute $10,000 to New York Republican Wendy Long’s campaign for the Senate. Federal law limits campaign contributions to $5,000 per individual in an election cycle. D’Souza was sentenced in Manhattan federal court in 2014 to five years of probation.

D’Souza, of San Diego, originally claimed that he was singled out for prosecution because of his views opposing former President Barack Obama. “Obama & his stooges tried to extinguish my American dream & destroy my faith in America. Thank you @realDonaldTrump for fully restoring both,” D’Souza said in a Twitter posting Thursday.

He offered a more contrite statement when he entered his guilty plea.

‘WAS WRONG’

“I knew that causing a campaign contribution to be made in the name of another was wrong and something the law forbids,” D’Souza said at the May 2014 hearing. “I deeply regret my conduct.”

A 1983 graduate of Dartmouth College, D’Souza served as a policy analyst for the late President Ronald Reagan and as a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He was president of The King’s College in New York City from 2010 to 2012, according to his website. In recent years, he has written books and produced films critical of Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas praised the pardon.

“Bravo! @realDonaldTrump Dinesh was the subject of a political prosecution, brazenly targeted by the Obama administration bc of his political views,” Cruz said Thursday in a tweet. “And he’s a powerful voice for freedom, systematically dismantling the lies of the Left—which is why they hate him. This is Justice.”

Preet Bharara, the former U.S. Attorney in Manhattan who brought the case, defended the prosecution. “The President has the right to pardon but the facts are these: D’Souza intentionally broke the law, voluntarily pled guilty, apologized for his conduct & the judge found no unfairness,” Bharara said in a tweet following Trump’s pardon announcement. “The career prosecutors and agents did their job. Period.”

White House spokesman Raj Shah said that D’Souza had made restitution and accepted responsibility for his actions.

“These are infractions and crimes that are rarely prosecuted and many believe the subject of some selective prosecution from the previous administration,” Shah said in an interview on Fox. “The president thinks it’s appropriate he receive a pardon after community service, paying a fine and doing other things that the judge has required.”

ARPAIO PARDON

D’Souza is the latest controversial right-wing figure to get a reprieve from the president.

Trump last year pardoned former Phoenix-area sheriff Joe Arpaio, calling him a patriot who was unfairly treated by the Obama administration.

The reprieve of Arpaio, who was convicted of federal misdemeanor criminal contempt after a judge found he had defied a court order to stop targeting Latinos with sweeps of suspected undocumented immigrants, renewed criticism of the president’s handling of racially charged issues.

While supporters argued Arpaio’s tactics were a successful deterrent to criminal behavior, detractors said the practices were racist and pointed to multiple instances of mistreatment that led to the death or injury of prisoners. Arpaio also drew attention for his support of Trump’s effort to falsely accuse Obama of not being born in the U.S.

Arpaio is now running in the Republican primary for a U.S. Senate seat in Arizona. That vote will be held Aug. 28.



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