Trump Pardons Former NYPD Commissioner Kerik

WCBS 880 Newsroom
February 18, 2020 - 1:53 pm
Bernard Kerik

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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — President Donald Trump says he has pardoned former New York police commissioner Bernard Kerik and also commuted the 14-year prison sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

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Kerik, who had contractors do personal work on city time, pleaded guilty in 2009 in the Southern District of New York to eight federal charges including tax fraud and making false statements. He was sentenced to four years in federal prison and was released in 2013.

"Bernard Kerik is connected to Rudy Giuliani and was a New York official and was even nominated by George W. Bush to the be a cabinet officer so there are a lot of Republican connections there," Larry Sabato, a professor of Government and Director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, told CBS News. 

Kerik's lawyer told CNBC that the pardon was "long overdue."

Meanwhile, Blagojevich, who was found guilty in 2010 of crimes that included seeking to sell an appointment to Barack Obama's old Senate seat and trying to shake down a children's hospital, is expected to walk out of prison later Tuesday.  

Speaking to reporters near Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews, Trump called Blagojevich's sentence "ridiculous.''

"He'll be able to go back home with his family after serving eight years in jail," Trump said. "That's a tremendously powerful, ridiculous sentence, in my opinion."

Sabato called the timing of the pardons unusual, but speculates this could be part of a larger message that the president is trying to convey.

"Everything about Trump is unusual and this is unusual because most presidents tend to concentrate pardons in the December range for the holidays or at the end of their terms, Trump does it anytime he wants, which is his right under the constituation," Sabato said. "Maybe this is all intended to underline what he's been saying about Roger Stone. He's making a more general case that the prosecutors and the Justice Department in some cases go too far."

Earlier, the president pardoned Edward DeBartolo Jr., the former San Francisco 49ers owner convicted in a gambling fraud scandal. Trump also granted clemency to financier Michael Milken.

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