President Donald Trump extended clemency to a number of convicted persons; the big names include: (1) commuting former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s 14-year prison sentence; (2) pardoning former New York City police commissioner Bernie Keri; (3) pardoning financier Michael Milken, after serving two years in prison in the early 1990s, on finance-related charges, and (4) Edward DeBartolo Jr., the former San Francisco 49ers owner convicted in a gambling fraud scandal. See the full list of all eleven individuals granted clemency from President Trump here.
President Trump’s acts were motivated by more than mere politics–they were personal. These acts wasted Justice Department hours and dollars [as does every act of clemency]. This may delegitimize the federal government’s anti-corruption efforts and undermine the ability to catch America’s corrupt bourgeoisie.
“The common link among this group is that all have some personal connection to the President. Blagojevich was a contestant on ‘Celebrity Apprentice,’ and he was prosecuted by Patrick Fitzgerald, a close friend of and lawyer for James Comey… Milken’s annual financial conferences are a favorite meeting place for, among others, Trump’s moneyed friends… Kerik was appointed police commissioner by Rudolph Giuliani… DeBartolo’s cause was championed by a large group of former professional football players, whose favor Trump has often sought…
“The pardons were entirely personal in origin, and so the granting of them was exclusively an exercise of Trump’s own power. That was their point. A benevolent leader dispensed favors. The world will not change much because of these actions; of the four, only Blagojevich was still incarcerated… The only cost is the further degradation of the government, moving our system closer to a cult of personality.”Jeffrey Toobin, New York
The Right seems to have mixed reviews. Some recognize the standard act of pardoning as a par-for-the-course presidential act, and others believe the president is granting grace to some that are too close to himself. On the other hand certain acts were clearly appropriate such as Michael Milken who was vastly overcharged.
“Blagojevich, a Democrat, was impeached 114-1 by the House and removed as governor 59-0 by the Senate in the deeply Democratic state of Illinois. Even his own party didn’t want his stink on them… Such is the stench from Trump granting clemency to his corrupt former ‘Apprentice’ crony that even GOPers from deep-red jurisdiction are scrambling to run away from it today. Darin LaHood represents an R+15 district while John Shimkus hails from one that’s R+21, the sort of numbers that normally deter a Republican from criticizing the president. Not this time.”Allahpundit, Hot Air
“[The citizens of Illinois have] watched judges frog-march four of Illinois’ last 11 governors to federal prisons. And now a flurry of warrants, arrests and indictments suggests that the feds are pursuing a fresh cluster of public corruption scandals in Chicago, Springfield and beyond. If Blagojevich’s walk to freedom liberates a prison bed, many other Illinois pols evidently have been competing to fill it… Because there’s always a cohort of Illinois deniers who think that what happened to Blagojevich won’t happen to them.”Editorial Board, Chicago Tribune