• Thomas Parker

Trump issues several pardons, clemencies

Updated: Feb 26, 2020

On Tuesday, President Trump announced a set of pardons and clemencies for 11 individuals, including former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, financier Michael Milken, former San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr., and former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik.

The president commuted the 14-year prison sentence of former Democratic Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, who was found guilty of trying to sell an open U.S. Senate seat. Blagojevich began serving his sentence in 2012 and was to be released in 2024. Trump's commutation freed Blagojevich while maintaining his conviction.

A White House briefing authored by President Trump's press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, explained the rationale for the pardons. It stated that Blagojevich "has demonstrated exemplary character" since his confinement. "He tutors and teaches GED classes, mentors prisoners regarding personal and professional development, and speaks to them about their civic duties."

Michael Milken is a former bond trader who was sentenced to ten years in prison for securities fraud. The sentence was later reduced to two years after cooperation with federal investigators, and now the president has issued Milken a pardon.

The White House said Milken is "one of America's great financiers," and that "the charges filed against Mr. Milken were truly novel."

"Since his release, Mr. Milken has dedicated his life to philanthropy, continuing charitable work that he began before his indictment," Grisham's statement said.

Edward DeBartolo Jr. owned the 49ers for 23 years and was convicted for failing to report a felony in a bribery case. DeBartolo was sentenced to 2 years probation and agreed to pay up to $1 million in fines, as well as relinquishing ownership of the 49ers to his sister, Denise York.

Former 49ers hall-of-fame wide receiver Jerry Rice told the press at the White House that he appreciated the president's decision to pardon his former owner, citing the charity work that DeBartolo has done.

The White House statement also cites DeBartolo's philanthropy, saying that he is "a generous philanthropist and passionate supporter of numerous charitable causes, including charter schools like the Brooks DeBartolo Collegiate High School, and anti-gang violence initiatives."

Bernard Kerik served as the Police Commissioner of New York City under former Mayor Rudy Giuliani from 2000 to 2001. Kerik was convicted of tax fraud and false statements in 2010.

Press Secretary Grisham's statement says of Kerik, "He embodied the strength, courage, compassion, and spirit of the people of New York and this great Nation as he served alongside first responders at the World Trade Center in the aftermath of the attack."

"Since his conviction, he has focused on improving the lives of others, including as a passionate advocate for criminal justice and prisoner reentry reform," Grisham said.

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