Trump grants clemency to 11, including former junk bond king Michael Milken

[COLOR=var(--primaryTextColor)]Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich speaks to the media outside his home in Chicago with his wife, Patti, shortly before heading to prison.
(M. Spencer Green / Associated Press )

President Trump commuted the sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Tuesday, continuing a run of brazen actions to intercede in Justice Department matters following his acquittal on articles of impeachment


[COLOR=var(--secondaryTextColor)]FEB. 18, 2020
11:29 AM

[COLOR=var(--primaryTextColor)]WASHINGTON — [/COLOR][COLOR=var(--primaryTextColor)]President Trump granted pardons or commutations Tuesday to 11 convicted felons, including Michael Milken, the former junk bond king who became a face of the insider trading financial scandals of the 1980s, in a mass clemency that expanded the president’s interventions in judicial matters since his Senate impeachment acquittal.
Among those who had their sentences commuted was former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who has served eight years of a 14 year prison term after he was found guilty for trying to sell an open U.S. Senate seat that had been held by Barack Obama.
The president also made clear he has not ruled out pardoning Roger Stone, who is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court on Thursday despite Trump’s complaints on Twitter earlier Tuesday that his longtime friend and advisor deserved a new trial.
Stone was convicted in November of seven counts of witness tampering and lying to Congress during the special counsel probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Trump told reporters he thought Stone was “being treated unfairly.”

Trump dismissed criticism that his furious tweets about specific criminal cases involving his associates, federal judges hearing them, and the prosecutors and jurors at trials have served to politicize the criminal justice system and raise questions about the integrity of the Justice Department.
“I’m actually, I guess, the chief law enforcement officer of the country,” Trump said when asked if he had crossed a line by interfering at the Justice Department. “I’ve chosen not to be involved,” he continued. “I could be involved if I wanted to be.”
Trump spoke at Joint Base Andrews as he embarked on a four-day swing to Nevada and California, and just hours after the White House announced the first pardon, that of former San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo, Jr., who was convicted in a gambling fraud scandal.
Trump also commuted the prison sentence of Bernard Kerik, who led the New York Police Department after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and was later nominated by President George W. Bush to head the Department of Homeland Security, although his name was later pulled. Kerik was sentenced to four years in prison in 2010 after pleading guilty to eight felony charges, including tax fraud and lying to investigators.

Kerik expressed his gratitude to Trump, saying, “Today is one of the greatest days of my life.”
Trump also issued full pardons to Ariel Friedler, Paul Pogue, David Safavian and Angela Stanton. And he commuted sentences for three others: Tynice Nichole Hall, Crystal Munoz and Judith Negron.
Trump first floated the possibility of pardoning Blagojevich in May 2018 despite advisors’ warnings of political fallout from commuting the sentence of a politician whose crime exemplifies the kind of corruption Trump’s “drain the swamp” messaging vowed to root out.
Blagojevich was convicted in 2011 of trying to extract a personal benefit from naming a replacement for Obama in the U.S. Senate after Obama was elected to the White House in 2008. He has been imprisoned since 2012 in a federal prison in Colorado, and was not due for release until 2024.
Trump’s commutation frees Blagojevich from prison without wiping out his conviction.
Blagojevich appeared on NBC’s “The Apprentice” in 2009, which was then hosted by Trump. On Tuesday, the president denied knowing him, however.
“He seems like a very nice person, don’t know him,” Trump said of the former Democratic governor.
The Illinois House voted to impeach the governor and proceed to a trial to remove him from office. In January 2009, the state Senate unanimously voted to remove him from office.