Trump goes on massive pardoning spree

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Trump gave full pardons to seven individuals this week, including a former NYPD commissioner who pleaded guilty to tax fraud and lying to Homeland Security, while also commuting the sentences of four others.

Donald Trump issued a spate of pardons and commutations for 11 individuals on Tuesday, including a pardon for former New York City Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik, who pleaded guilty in 2009 to tax fraud and lying to the Department of Homeland Security.

Kerik was NYPD Commissioner at the time of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center. Rudy Giuliani was mayor of New York City at that time.

Trump also pardoned Michael Milken, the man credited with creating "junk bonds," who went to prison in the late 1980s for securities trading violations. Giuliani has been pushing for a presidential pardon for Milken for 20 years.

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Trump also pardoned:

  • Edward DeBartolo Jr., former owner of the San Francisco 49ers. DeBartolo was convicted of "failing to report a felony" in relation to his attempt to bribe former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards for a riverboat casino license.
  • Ariel Friedler, who pleaded guilty to accessing a protected computer without authorization.
  • Paul Pogue, the owner of a construction company who previously pleaded guilty to underpaying his taxes for three years and was sentenced to three years probation.
  • David Safavian, who was convicted of making false statements and obstructing an investigation into a trip he took as a government official.
  • Angela Stanton, who was part of a stolen vehicle ring, but has since become a proponent of criminal justice reform.

In addition to those pardons, Trump commuted the sentences of four individuals.

The most high-profile commutation was for former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Blagojevich was convicted in 2011 of trying to sell former the Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama, among other charges. In 2010, Blagojevich was a contestant on Trump's reality television show, "The Apprentice."

Trump also commuted the sentences of:

  • Tynice Nichole Hall, who served 14 years of an 18 year sentence for allowing her apartment to be used to sell drugs.
  • Crystal Munoz, who spent 12 years in prison for her role in a marijuana smuggling ring.
  • Judith Negron, who was sentenced to 35 years in prison for her role as part of a health care company that defrauded the federal government.

The string of clemency grants come just two days before Roger Stone, a longtime Trump confidant and campaign aide, is set to be sentenced. Stone was convicted for witness tampering and obstruction of justice.

The Justice Department originally recommended a prison sentence of up to nine years for Stone, but announced that it had changed its recommendation following a tweet from Trump lamenting the sentence as overly stringent. All four DOJ attorneys on Stone's case withdrew from their roles in protest after the sentencing recommendation change, with one attorney resigning from the DOJ altogether.

Since then, more than 1,000 former DOJ employees have signed on to a letter calling Attorney General William Barr's interference in criminal matters related to Trump's friends and allies a "grave threat" to the country.

Trump has publicly attacked the federal judge in the Stone case and demanded a new trial for his friend. On Feb. 12, Trump refused to rule out pardoning Stone after he is sentenced.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.