US President Donald Trump has told reporters he’s considering a pardon of Martha Stewart and commuting the sentence of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich.
Mr Trump told reporters on Thursday aboard Air Force One that Stewart, best known as a famous homemaker and TV personality, was “to a certain extent … harshly and unfairly treated”.
Stewart, who was the host of a spinoff of The Apprentice, was investigated for insider trading in 2003.
Stewart was convicted for conspiracy, obstruction and making false statements to investigators during the insider-trading probe and served five months in prison.
Meanwhile, Blagojevich, removed from office in 2009 and convicted on multiple charges of corruption two years later, also appeared as a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice before he began his sentence.
Blagojevich was charged with attempting to “sell” the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama when he became president. He is serving a 14-year sentence.
He appeared on Celebrity Apprentice in 2010, but was fired after four episodes.
Mr Trump’s remarks came just hours after he announced that he would pardon conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza.
D’Souza had plead guilty in 2014 to federal campaign finance law violations.
The announcement drew criticism from some Democrats and legal analysts who said the Republican president had undermined the rule of law with a series of pardons based on political considerations.
“Will be giving a Full Pardon to Dinesh D’Souza today. He was treated very unfairly by our government!” Mr Trump said on Twitter.
Will be giving a Full Pardon to Dinesh D’Souza today. He was treated very unfairly by our government!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2018
D’Souza retweeted Mr Trump’s tweet but did not comment otherwise.
D’Souza, 53, admitted in May 2014 that he illegally reimbursed two “straw donors” who donated $US10,000 each to the unsuccessful 2012 US Senate campaign in New York of Wendy Long, a Republican.
He was sentenced to five years of probation. The government had urged a prison sentence of 10 to 16 months to discourage future abuse of the election process, including by “well-heeled individuals who are tempted to use their money to help other candidates”.
D’Souza was born in Mumbai and became a naturalised US citizen in 1991. He wrote the bestsellers The Roots of Obama’s Rage in 2010 and America: Imagine a World Without Her this year, and in 2012 co-directed the film 2016: Obama’s America.
Mr Trump has pardoned other notable conservatives convicted of various offences. Last August, he pardoned former Arizona lawman and political ally Joe Arpaio less than a month after he was convicted of criminal contempt in a case involving racial profiling of Hispanics.
Arpaio, the self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff in America”, was known for his crackdown on illegal immigrants in Arizona’s Maricopa County. He also investigated unfounded claims, supported by Mr Trump, questioning Mr Obama’s citizenship.
In April, Mr Trump pardoned Lewis “Scooter” Libby, who was chief of staff to former vice president Dick Cheney and was convicted in 2007 of lying in an investigation into the unmasking of a CIA agent. Conservative Republicans had sought a pardon for Libby for years.
Both cases prompted critics to accuse Mr Trump of abusing his pardoning power.