Mr. Bharara 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,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Donald Trump has sent a message to his friends and cronies that if you break laws to protect him or attack our democracy, he’s got your back,” said David Donnelly, the president of the watchdog group Every Voice.
Mr. Blagojevich, who won two terms as governor, was sentenced to 14 years in prison after being convicted of 18 corruption charges, including trying to sell or trade Mr. Obama’s Senate seat when he resigned to move to the White House.
“What he did does not justify 18 years in a jail,” Mr. Trump said, misstating the sentence. “If you read his statement, it was a foolish statement. There was a lot of bravado” in talking about selling the Senate seat, Mr. Trump said. But “plenty of other politicians have said a lot worse. And it doesn’t — he shouldn’t have been put in jail.” A commutation would free Mr. Blagojevich, who has served six years in prison, without reversing the conviction.
Mr. Blagojevich wrote a column in The Wall Street Journal this week pleading his case in terms that seemed aimed directly at Mr. Trump’s antipathy for law enforcement agencies. “The rule of law is under assault in America,” Mr. Blagojevich wrote. “It is being perverted and abused by the people sworn to enforce and uphold it. Some in the Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation are abusing their power to criminalize the routine practices of politics and government.”
In a statement on Thursday, the former governor’s lawyer, Leonard Goodman, likewise made an argument meant to appeal to Mr. Trump, noting that prosecutors “used a cooperating informant to get a wiretap to record all of his conversations.”
During his conversation with reporters on Thursday, Mr. Trump mentioned Ms. Stewart, as well, but more in passing. “She used to be my biggest fan in the world” back “before I became a politician,” he said. “But that’s O.K., I don’t view it that way.”
In his recent book, “A Higher Loyalty,” Mr. Comey devoted an entire chapter to the case against Ms. Stewart. He wrote that he hesitated to charge her for fear of being attacked for making a “mountain out of a molehill,” but concluded that she had to be prosecuted “to protect the institution of justice, and reinforce a culture of truth-telling.”