"It's undeniable that with at least number of these presidential pardons, people have read political motivation into these. For instance, when he decided to pardon Scooter Libby who was a former Vice President Dick Cheney's, one of his top aides, many people saw that as really a reaction to the Mueller investigation. The president feels right now as though he's under attack, this is a witch hunt being done by a special counsel, which is exactly how many conservatives had framed the Libby indictment as thoughit was kind of a special counsel gone awry, and so you can see these parallels and other critics especially can read in as potentially the president trying to distract from issues when he chooses."
New York, 18 July 2016
4. FILE: Medium of Martha Stewart posing for photos
New York, 14 April 2016
5. FILE: Fashion pan of Martha Stewart, holding a dog
"I mean this is a White House for reporters covering it often feel a sense of whiplash. Once second you're talking about and asking serious questions about that upcoming maybe summit with North Korea, and the next minute you're staking out one of the entryways because Kim Kardashian, the reality TV star, is about to arrive. So, this is a White House that is always operating on multiple channels. You've got the president's Twitter feed, you've got official statements, you've got in meetings and discussions happening behind the scenes. So there were always a lot of things going on."
Chicago, Illinois - December 2011
7. Various of Rod Blagojevich and wife, Patty, at time of sentencing
"The president's approach to the pardon process has been very, very different from his predecessors when it comes to timing. Presidents Obama, President Clinton tended to wait until after their first two years to start the pardon process. They also tended to do it in big chunks of people. So there's a formal process here. There where the Department of Justice has somebody in place and an office in place that vets all of these different cases that come before them, brings them to the president and then the president will go through a list and decide who he wanted support and who he wanted to sentence to commute. The president has approached this in a very, very different way. It's been much more individual and in many of these cases, these are individuals who either had celebrity backin, they are individuals who have serious cases that especially conservative activists feel that there's been some sort of political motivation behind their convictions. In the case of Blagojevich, he actually appeared on the president's Apprentice TV show, so the two of them knew each other personally."
Chicago, Illinois - 7 December 2011
9. Rod Blagojevich and wife, Patty, leaving home for sentencing
President Donald Trump said Thursday he's considering commuting the sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was convicted of corruption, and pardoning lifestyle entrepreneur Martha Stewart, who served a stint in federal prison after being convicted of charges related to a stock sale.
The president's use of pardons is raising questions about whether he is doing so to send a message to allies who could face prosecution in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe.
"It's undeniable that with the least number of these presidential pardons people have read political motivation into these, said AP Reporter Jill Colvin.
"For instance when he decided to pardon Scooter Libby who was a former Vice President Dick Cheney's one of his top aides. Many people saw that as really a reaction to the Mueller investigation," she said.
Trump later shared his thoughts on Blagojevich and Stewart with the reporters accompanying him on Air Force One.
Both had connections to Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice" reality television show: Blagojevich was a contestant in 2010 and Stewart hosted the 2005 spinoff series, "The Apprentice: Martha Stewart."
Blagojevich was convicted on numerous counts of corruption, including for trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat that was vacated by Obama and for shaking down a children's hospital.
As governor, he had the right to name someone to fill the Senate vacancy, but he was caught on FBI wiretaps discussing ways to make money off it. He began serving a 14-year prison sentence in 2012 and is scheduled for release in 2024.
The Supreme Court has twice turned down appeals from Blagojevich, most recently in April. That appeal turned in part on the length of Blagojevich's prison term. Trump's Justice Department urged the court to reject the appeal.
Stewart was convicted in 2004 of obstructing justice and lying to the government about why she unloaded stock just before the price plummeted. She served five months in prison. Her representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The federal prosecutor who oversaw Stewart's case in New York was James Comey, one of Trump's principal antagonists and the man he fired as FBI director last year. The prosecutor who led the case against Blagojevich in Chicago was Patrick Fitzgerald, a Comey friend who is also his lawyer. Fitzgerald was also the special counsel leading the case against I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the Bush administration official pardoned by Trump last month.
Hours earlier, Trump said on Twitter that he will pardon conservative commentator and Obama critic Dinesh D'Souza, who pleaded guilty to campaign finance fraud. The White House announced later Thursday that the pardon had been granted.
Watchdog groups criticized D'Souza's pardon, saying it signaled the president's contempt for the rule of law.