Trump Commutes Blagojevich Sentence, Pardons Others

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Trump also granted clemency to financier Michael Milken, who pleaded guilty to violating US securities laws, and pardoned former NYPD commissioner Bernie Kerik, who served just over three years for tax fraud and lying to the White House while being interviewed to be Homeland Security secretary.

"We have Bernie Kerik, we have Mike Milken, who's gone around and done an incredible job", Trump said, adding that Milken had "paid a big price".

President Trump commuted the 14-year prison sentence of former Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich of IL, the Democrat who was convicted of trying to essentially sell Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat for personal gain, and pardoned the financier Michael R. Milken and Bernard B. Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner, the president announced on Tuesday.

Blagojevich, who hails from a state with a long history of pay-to-play schemes, was expected to walk out of prison later in the day, according to a person close to him, who spoke on condition of anonymity because that person had not seen any signed paperwork.

The president's grant of clemency will free Blagojevich, who appeared on The Celebrity Apprentice in early 2010 after he had already been arrested and indicted and was awaiting trial.

On Tuesday morning, the White House announced Trump's pardoning of former San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr. for his involvement in the 1998 corruption case against former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards.

Trump has made sympathetic comments about Blagojevich in the past, having said publicly multiple times that Blagojevich's sentence was unfair.

Trump has his own grievances about investigations - he has called Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russian inquiry a "witch hunt".

Though Blagojevich was eliminated from the season, Trump, 73, told him at the time, "You have a hell of a lot of guts".

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"If all that matters when it comes to "law and order" is who is a friend and who is an enemy, and if friends are white and enemies are black or Latino or in the wrong party, then the rhetoric around crime and punishment stops being about justice and is merely about power and corruption. It's a long time to go".

Blagojevich also was a contestant on Mr. Most of the 200 to 300 attendees raised their hands, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing several people at the event.

"There are no words to express my appreciation and gratitude to President Trump", Kerik said in a statement.

Kerik was released from prison in 2013 after serving three years for good behavior. He said the hours of Federal Bureau of Investigation recordings were the ramblings of a politician who liked to think out loud.

He attempted to pressure an executive at a children's hospital into contributing money to his campaigns.

- April 21, 2017: An appeals court in Chicago rejects the request from Blagojevich for another sentencing hearing. Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in prison and has been incarcerated since 2012.

But in 2011, another jury convicted him of 17 counts, including 10 of wire fraud and one count of soliciting bribes.

- August 9, 2016: After prosecutors decline to retry Blagojevich, trial Judge James Zagel resentences him on the 13 counts that still stand.

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