Dear Commons Community,
Calling himself “the chief law enforcement officer of the country,” the president yesterday renewed his attacks on the criminal justice system, demanded a new trial for his friend Roger Stone, and granted clemency to several white-collar criminals.
By the end of the day, Attorney General William Barr was said to be considering resignation, though the Justice Department denied such suggestions. The attorney general said last week that Mr. Trump was making his work “impossible,” and the president agreed with him on Tuesday, saying: “I do make his job harder. I do agree with that. I think that’s true.”
White House officials said Mr. Trump had followed recommendations from friends, celebrities and campaign donors in granting full pardons or commutations to 11 people. (A commutation makes a punishment milder without wiping out the underlying conviction.)
The Supreme Court has ruled that presidents have unlimited authority to grant pardons; below is a full list of those who received clemency yesterday. Among them are Michael Milken, the Wall Street financier and so-called junk bond king of the 1980s, and Rod Blagojevich, the former Illinois governor who essentially tried to sell the Senate seat that Barack Obama vacated after he was elected president.
They represent a collection of societal parasites if there ever was one.
A Complete List of Trump’s Pardons and Commutations
President Trump pardoned seven people on Tuesday, including the “junk bond king” Michael R. Milken and Bernard B. Kerik, a former New York City police commissioner. He also commuted the sentences of Rod R. Blagojevich, a former governor of Illinois, and three others.
The Constitution gives presidents what the Supreme Court has ruled is the unlimited authority to grant pardons, which excuse or forgive a federal crime. A commutation, by contrast, makes a punishment milder without wiping out the underlying conviction. Both are forms of presidential clemency.
Here are the 11 people who benefited from the executive grants of clemency that Mr. Trump signed Tuesday.
Rod R. Blagojevich
Former Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois was sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2011 for trying to sell or trade to the highest bidder the Senate seat that Barack Obama vacated after he was elected president. Mr. Blagojevich’s expletive-filled remarks about his role in choosing a new senator — “I’m just not giving it up for nothing” — were caught on government recordings of his phone calls and became punch lines on late-night television.
In 2010, while Mr. Blagojevich was awaiting trial, he was a contestant on “The Celebrity Apprentice,” a reality series hosted by Mr. Trump. Mr. Blagojevich was fired at the end of the fourth episode of the season.
Edward DeBartolo, Jr.
Edward DeBartolo Jr., a former owner of the San Francisco 49ers, pleaded guilty in 1998 to concealing an extortion plot by a former governor of Louisiana. Mr. DeBartolo was prosecuted after he agreed to pay $400,000 to the former governor, Edwin W. Edwards, to secure a riverboat gambling license for his gambling consortium.The 49ers won five Super Bowl championships in a 14-year span while Mr. DeBartolo was serving as the team’s principal owner. Although Mr. DeBartolo avoided prison time, he was fined $1 million and was suspended for a year by the N.F.L.
Ariel Friedler, a technology entrepreneur, pleaded guilty in 2014 to conspiracy to access a protected computer without authorization and served two months in prison, according to a statement from the White House.
Mr. Friedler has since dedicated his life to promoting veterans issues and helping former prisoners re-enter society, the statement said.
Tynice Nichole Hall
Tynice Nichole Hall was sentenced in 2006 after she was convicted on various drug charges in Lubbock, Texas, according to the Justice Department. The evidence at trial showed that Ms. Hall’s residence was used as a stash house for drugs by her boyfriend, who was the main target of an investigation, according to court documents. The police found large quantities of crack and powder cocaine and loaded firearms in her apartment.
Ms. Hall has spent the last 14 years in prison, where she has participated in apprenticeships, completed coursework toward a college degree and led educational programs for other inmates, the White House statement said.
Bernard B. Kerik
Ten years ago this month, Bernard B. Kerik, a former New York City police commissioner, was sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to eight felony charges, including tax fraud and lying to White House officials. Mr. Kerik, who was a close ally of former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, took responsibility for his actions.
Mr. Kerik’s rise to prominence dates to the 1993 campaign for mayor in New York City, when he served as Mr. Giuliani’s bodyguard and chauffeur. After the pardon was announced, Mr. Kerik expressed his gratitude to Mr. Trump on Twitter. “With the exception of the birth of my children,” he wrote, “today is one of the greatest days of my life.”
Michael R. Milken
Michael R. Milken was the billionaire “junk bond king” and a well-known financier on Wall Street in the 1980s. In 1990, he pleaded guilty to securities fraud and conspiracy charges and was sentenced to 10 years in prison, though his sentence was later reduced to two years. He also agreed to pay $600 million in fines and penalties. Mr. Milken was the inspiration for the Gordon Gekko character in the film “Wall Street.”
Among those arguing for Mr. Milken to be pardoned were Mr. Giuliani, who prosecuted Mr. Milken when he was the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. Since he was released from prison in 1993, Mr. Milken has striven to repair his reputation by creating the Milken Institute, a nonpartisan economic and public policy think tank.
Crystal Munoz was found guilty in 2008 of conspiring to possess with intent to distribute marijuana, according to a petition filed by the Criminal Defense Clinic at the Texas A&M University School of Law. Ms. Munoz, who was sentenced to nearly two decades in prison, drew a map that her friends used in a large marijuana trafficking operation, according to Rolling Stone.
Over the past 12 years, Ms. Munoz has mentored people and volunteered with a hospice program while serving in prison, according to the White House statement.
Judith Negron was sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2011 for her role in orchestrating a $205 million Medicare fraud scheme as the owner of a mental health care company in Miami. Ms. Negron has served eight years in prison, and her prison warden described her as a “model inmate,” according to the White House statement.
In 2010, Paul Pogue, the founder and former chief executive of a large construction company in Texas, was sentenced to three years of probation and was ordered to pay $723,0000 in fines and restitution for filing false income tax statements, according to the McKinney Courier Gazette.
The White House applauded his charitable work in its statement on Tuesday. “Despite his conviction, Mr. Pogue never stopped his charitable work,” the statement said.
David Safavian, the top federal procurement official under President George W. Bush, was sentenced to a year in prison in 2009 for covering up his ties to the lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Mr. Safavian, a former chief of staff at the General Services Administration, was convicted of obstruction of justice and making false statements.
“Having served time in prison and completed the process of rejoining society with a felony conviction, Mr. Safavian is uniquely positioned to identify problems with the criminal justice system and work to fix them,” the White House said in the statement.
Angela Stanton, an author, television personality and motivational speaker, served six months of home confinement in 2007 for her role in a stolen-vehicle ring. Her book “Life of a Real Housewife” explores her difficult upbringing and her encounters with reality TV stars.
Recently she has begun giving interviews about her support for Mr. Trump. The White House credited her in its statement with working “tirelessly to improve re-entry outcomes for people returning to their communities upon release from prison.”