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President Trump's Pardons: Stone, Blagojevich and More

2020-07-11 04:33:18

President Trump on Friday commuted the sentence of Roger J. Stone Jr., a longtime friend and former campaign adviser who had openly expressed loyalty to him throughout a congressional investigation into ties between Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia.

“The simple fact is that if the special counsel had not been pursuing an absolutely baseless investigation, Mr. Stone would not be facing time in prison,” the White House said in a statement on Friday evening.

Mr. Stone had been days away from reporting to a federal prison to serve a 40-month sentence for seven felonies, including lying to federal investigators, tampering with a witness and impeding a congressional inquiry. He had aggressively lobbied for clemency, both in the courts and on social media.

The commutation, which was immediately criticized by Democrats, adds Mr. Stone to a list of beneficiaries of Mr. Trump’s clemency in cases that resonate with him personally — or with people who have a direct line to him through friends or family — over thousands of other cases awaiting his review.

According to the Justice Department, Mr. Trump has commuted the sentences of 10 people, not including Mr. Stone, but he has received 7,786 petitions for commutation. This puts him far behind his most recent predecessor, President Barack Obama, who commuted the sentences of 1,715 people, but closer to President George W. Bush, who commuted the sentences of 11 people.

The Supreme Court has ruled that the Constitution gives presidents 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 — in Mr. Stone’s case, the White House did not argue that he was innocent. Both are forms of presidential clemency.

Here are some of the pardons and commutations issued by Mr. Trump:

Pardon: Aug. 25, 2017

In a move that drew outrage from Democrats and immigration advocates, Mr. Trump, who has staked much of his political capital around zero-tolerance immigration policies, pardoned Mr. Arpaio less than a month after he was found guilty.

COMMUTATION: Feb. 18, 2020

Pardon: May 31, 2018

Dinesh D’Souza received a presidential pardon after pleading guilty to making illegal campaign contributions in 2014. Mr. D’Souza, a filmmaker and author whose subjects often dabble in conspiracy theories, had long blamed his conviction on his political opposition to Mr. Obama.

“What happened here is Obama and his team — Eric Holder, Preet Bharara in New York — these guys decided to make an example of me, and I think that the reason for this was Obama’s anger over my movie that I made about him,” Mr. D’Souza said on “Fox and Friends,” one of Mr. Trump’s favorite shows.

His reasoning seemed to strike a nerve with the president: In issuing his pardon, Mr. Trump said that Mr. D’Souza had been “treated very unfairly by our government,” echoing a claim the commentator has often made himself.

“I’ve been such a source of pride for him,” Ms. Johnson said at the time. “Who doesn’t want to show something they’re proud of during an election year? That’s what all the candidates do. For him to highlight me, it makes me know he’s not only proud, he’s super proud.”

Mr. Milken did not have a pardon or commutation application pending at the Justice Department’s pardons office, meaning that the president made that decision entirely without official department input. Among those arguing for Mr. Milken to be pardoned were Mr. Giuliani, who as the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York prosecuted Mr. Milken.

Pardon: Feb. 18, 2020

David H. Safavian, the top federal procurement official under President George W. Bush, was sentenced in 2009 to a year in prison for covering up his ties to Jack Abramoff, the disgraced lobbyist whose corruption became a symbol of the excesses of Washington influence peddling. Mr. Safavian 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 announcing his pardon.

Pardon: Feb. 18, 2020

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.

Before her pardon, she gave interviews in which she declared her support for Mr. Trump. In announcing her pardon, the White House credited her with working “tirelessly to improve re-entry outcomes for people returning to their communities upon release from prison.”


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