Trump Only Cares About Pardons To Help Himself And The Well-Connected

Trump brags about criminal justice reform, but instead of helping any of the 13,000 federal inmates who have petitioned for clemency — many of whom are serving overly harsh sentences and deserve mercy — Trump helped political supporters, the wealthy and well-connected, those championed by Fox News, and contestants on his TV show.

Trump uses the pardon power as a tool to help him politically and reward allies and wealthy donors.

  • Rod Blagojevich: Trump commuted the sentence of Rod Blagojevich, who is a former contestant on the “Apprentice” and whose wife repeatedly took to Fox News to push for her husband’s sentence to be reduced.

  • Paul Pogue: Trump pardoned Paul Pogue, whose family donated hundreds of thousands to Trump’s campaign and related committees starting late last year, seemingly out of nowhere.

  • Michael Milken: Trump pardoned Michael Milken, whose pardon was supported by Maria Bartiromo, Sheldon & Miriam Adelson, Rudy Giuliani, and Rupert Murdoch. Milken also helped Nelson Peltz, a billionaire Trump donor that just held a $10 million fundraiser for Trump over the weekend.

  • Bernard Kerik: Trump pardoned Bernard Kerik, a longtime ally and employee of Rudy Giuliani and frequent Fox News guest. In fact, Kerik appeared on Tucker Carlson’s show the evening before he was pardoned.

Trump has used his pardon power to downplay white-collar crimes and normalize corruption.

Los Angeles Times Editorial: “In granting clemency to Blagojevich and Kerik, Trump, who has spoken in lurid terms about street crime, seemed to be less bothered by crimes involving white-collar defendants and corrupt public officials. That same message is sent by his pardons of Edward J. DeBartolo Jr., a former owner of the San Francisco 49ers who pleaded guilty in 1998 to concealing an extortion attempt by former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards, and junk-bond king Michael Milken.”

Washington Post: “Trump pardoned or commuted the sentences of seven convicted white-collar criminals at the center of federal anti-corruption and tax fraud cases spanning decades. … The pardons and commutations focus on the type of corruption and lying charges his associates were convicted of as part of the Russia investigation.”