Published: Wed, February 19, 2020

Trump grants clemency to 11, including Rod Blagojevich and Michael Milken

Trump grants clemency to 11, including Rod Blagojevich and Michael Milken

The Thursday statement renewed the call after Trump told reporters a day earlier that he felt Blagojevich's seven years in prison had been enough.

Trump said that he "doesn't know" Blagojevich, who was often dubbed "Blago" in media headlines, but noted that the former governor was on several times during "The Apprentice", the NBC show that Trump had hosted and starred in. "Seemed like a very nice person", Trump said. Kerik pleaded guilty in 2009 to tax fraud but was released from prison in 2013.

The White House also announced a pardon for Edward DeBartolo, the former owner of the San Francisco 49ers football team who pleaded guilty two decades ago for failing to report a crime.

Trump pardoned Bernard Kerik, who was NYPD commissioner at the time of the September 11, 2001 attacks. "I haven't given it any thought ... but I think he's being treated unfairly", Trump said. For instance, Nelson Peltz, the billionaire who threw Trump a fundraiser last weekend, backed pardoning Milken, along with Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Fox host Maria Bartiromo, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a range of Trump's NY friends and Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao. He was referring specifically to the actions involving Blagojevich and Milken.

Last year, Illinois Republican Congressmen Darin LaHood, John Shimkus, Adam Kinzinger, Rodney Davis and Mike Bost urged Trump not to commute Blagojevich's sentence. "The decision, which was made today, has administration officials questioning the circumstances that led to Trump changing his mind - with the developments in the Roger Stone case today being the only new information they are aware of". "I saw that and I did commute his sentence".

Former New York City police commissioner Bernie Kerik served just over 3 years for tax fraud and lying to the White House.

Blagojevich, 63, was in his eighth year of a 14-year federal prison sentence on several convictions related to abuse of his political power - including infamously dangling an appointment to a vacant U.S. Senate seat in exchange for campaign money. Appearing on Trump favourite Fox News, she encouraged him to step in, praising the president and likening the investigation of her husband to special prosecutor Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election - a probe Trump has long characterized as a "witch hunt".

Going back to before he won the White House, Trump has been expressing sympathy for Blagojevich, who was convicted of flagrant corruption.

- May 31, 2018: President Donald Trump says he is thinking about clemency for Blagojevich and Martha Stewart. Such figures as Joe Montana, Jim Brown and Paul Anka had advocated for DeBartolo's pardon.

"We finally get to breathe for the first time before something else comes", he said. "I think they're trying to play catch up".

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