In 2018, news broke that President Donald Trump was considering commuting the sentence of disgraced former Illinois Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich and a pardon for Martha Stewart after granting one to conservative pundit Dinesh D’Souza.
Two years later, D’Souza was exonerated, the governor’s sentence was commuted, and Stewart remains the only one out of the three to have secured no form of clemency. Yet reasons remain abundant for why Stewart, released from federal prison 15 years ago, remains even more deserving of a presidential pardon.
1 . Stewart’s Charges Were Bogus
Most Americans still believe Stewart served five months in federal prison followed by two years in house arrest for “insider trading.” That’s what federal prosecutors wanted to charge Stewart with based on a 2001 sale of a quarter-million in ImClone stock. What prosecutors went for instead was conspiracy to lie about the crime for which she was never charged, for a sale that had already taken place.
According to Slate, reporting in 2003, “Stewart has always asserted that she sold the stock because it fell below a ‘predetermined price [$60] at which she planned to sell.'”
The sale Stewart claimed was made on her broker’s advice likely saved the celebrity media mogul upwards of $45,000. The Justice Department, however, struggled so much to mount a case for insider trading that it developed new charges to indict Stewart. According to the legal theory they pursued, Stewart engaged in “securities fraud” when she declared that she was innocent, which prosecutors said was designed to prop up the value of her company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.
In other words, her proclamation of innocence was declared a crime by the lead federal prosecutor on the case, future FBI Director James Comey.
In trying to sell President Barack Obama’s former Senate seat, Blagojevich clearly did something that was wrong. In making an illegal 2014 campaign contribution, D’Souza clearly did something that was wrong. In claiming she was innocent on charges over a case prosecutors couldn’t even bring, Stewart deserved to lose her freedom and miss out on a fortune with a tarnished reputation?
2. Trump Is Now a Lame Duck President
More than any other moment in any other presidency, the lame-duck period between an election and a president’s final days in office is ripe for clemency. With fewer political consequences to consider, the president is better able to pass out pardons and commute sentences in polarizing cases with little worry, as if Stewart’s was even controversial.
Trump has already pardoned former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn just two weeks ago. Flynn was caught in a perjury trap orchestrated by the same man hellbent two decades earlier on landing the nation’s beloved celebrity homemaker behind bars.
More pardons for those illegally targeted by Comey’s deep-state Russia hoax are rumored to follow in Trump’s final few weeks. With just more than a month to go, Trump doesn’t have much time, nor does he have much left to consider.
3. An Outgoing Swipe At James Comey
Trump and Stewart are both victims of the same villain. Perhaps no sweeter justice could be imagined in the final days of an administration plagued by Comey conspiracies than to exonerate an American icon whose life Comey tried to destroy too.
4. A Stewart Pardon Matches Trump’s Character
Trump lived in the celebrity world for decades before taking the reins of the Oval Office. Since capturing the White House, the president has not been shy about taking the advice or famous friends or former business partners, sometimes elevating them to high places.
The pardon power has been no exception, with Trump commuting Alice Johnson’s 1996 drug-trafficking sentence in 2018 after lobbying by Kim Kardashian. Trump pardoned heavyweight boxer Jack Johnson based on Sylvester Stallone’s recommendation the same year.
5. Far More Controversial Figures Have Been Pardoned
In 2017, President Barack Obama commuted the sentence of Oscar Lopez Rivera, who was convicted of plotting to blow up government property. President Obama also commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning, who leaked classified documents to WikiLeaks. After Trump took office, the new president pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio, convicted of illegally targeting undocumented immigrants. And yet, Stewart remains a federal felon? It’s time to end the injustice against her with a full pardon.