Dishing Out Clemency

Trump issues new series of pardons

by Christian Decker

Co-Editor-in-Chief

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump issued a series of 7 pardons and 4 commutions. Despite the president’s own legal trouble with impeachment and numerous accounts of sexual assault or harassment, the president did not hold back when exercising his presidential power to pardon. According to CNN, the reasons for said pardons were extremely vague. The president is quoted as saying “These are all people that you have to see the recommendations. I rely on recommendations, very importantly.” Reportedly, there has been no detailed report as of yet of how these pardons and commutations were handled and how they were able to be put through.


In the past, the granting pardons and clemency has been a rigorous process with a fair amount of oversight from White House staffers and advisers. But with a lack of transparency that is to a certain extent inherent in such processes, no one is really sure except the president and his aides whether or not such processes are being carried out. Whatever the cases, presidential pardons most seem to affect upper echelon white collar criminals convicted of crimes like fraud or insider trading. It is worth noting however, that of this set of presidential pardons, that there were two people on the list who were not white collar criminals.


Tynice Nichole Hall was serving a 14 year sentence for charges relating to crack-cocaine as well as for weapon possession. She has accordingly been working to rehabilitate herself by pursuing an education and partaking in job programs while in prison. According to the Justice Department, this is the reason for the commutation of her sentence. The other non-white-collar pardon went to Crystal Munoz, who was serving a 12 year sentence for marijuana. She reportedly worked in a hospice care center in effort to rehabilitate herself. Although these kinds of pardons might be rare for the administration, they are nonetheless consistent with Trump’s rhetoric concerning drug policy reform, an issue that most on the right and the left are starting to come together to work on.


Some of the big names on the list of pardons included Rod Blagojevich and Eddie DeBartolo Jr. Blagojevich was a former governor of Illinois who was convinced in a pay-to-play scandal. Interestingly enough, Blagojevich was also a contestant on Trump’s once popular game show, The “Celebrity Apprentice.”Herein, Trump’s comments about the pardon were extremely vague, noting “He served eight years in jail, a long time. He seems like a very nice person, don’t know him.” Accordingly, it’s been reported that almost everyone in the White House tried to put a kibosh on the pardon, with people from Trump’s aides and congressional Republicans pleading with the President to show some restraint. In a typical Trumpian fashion, Trump did it anyway, reportedly listening to advice from his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.


DeBartolo Jr., on the other hand, was sentenced to pay a million dollars in fines for his role in not reporting a bribery scheme. DeBartolo Jr. was the former owner of the San Francisco 49ers, until he gave ownership of the team to his sister following the scandal. Reportedly, influences on Trump for this decision were former NFL player Jerry Rice, among others, and DeBartolo Jr.’s charitable contributions.


Another name on the list was Michael Milken, a prominent bond department head who was convicted for securities fraud, and had served almost 2 years of the sentence. Milken took part in an insider trading scheme that ended becoming several guilty charges that cost him 600 million dollars in damages. Milken has since then apparently done charitable work, donating to causes that support cancer research. This was the bulk of the reason why the President decided to pardon him: “ [he’s] done an incredible job for the world with all his research on cancer.”
Still another was former New York Police Commissioner, Bernie Kerik. Kerik was convicted of tax fraud and lying to government officials and served a sentence of 3 years in prison. Coincidentally, Kerik is cole with former New York Mayor, Trump ally and attorney, Rudy Giuliani. Kerik also helped the Trump team with reversing the decision of the Navy regarding Edward Gallagher, a Navy seal who posed with a photo of a dead body. The reason for the pardon given was that Gallahger “had a lot of recommendations from a lot of very good people.”


The list of names goes on, with people serving crimes ranging from conspiracy to under-paying taxes. It’s unclear why this particular list of pardons has been approved at this time, considering the multitude of issues going around in the White House, but it’s likely that the public or other news sites will ever find out said exact reason. For those who want to look at the list of names, most of the major news sites have them published and readily available.

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