CLOSINGS: View Closings

Donald Trump and his pardon triangle

CNN's Jake Tapper reports.

Posted: Feb 19, 2020 4:10 AM
Updated: Feb 19, 2020 4:10 AM

President Donald Trump on Tuesday picked a handful of corrupt former officials and corrupt wealthy influence peddlers and granted them clemency, just days after his administration's latest controversy: accusations that he was tipping the scales of justice in favor of his friend Roger Stone (which he keeps saying he has every right to do, but denies doing).

Who'd he pick? If there's a theme, it's corruption.

Rod Blagojevich, the jailed former Illinois governor, who tried to sell the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama back in 2009. (Commuted eight years into a 14-year sentence)

Bernard Kerik, the corrupt former New York City police commissioner and former Rudy Giuliani bodyguard whose nomination to be homeland security secretary under former President George W. Bush uncovered his inappropriate relationship with city contractors. He did time for lying to officials and tax fraud. (Pardoned)

Eddie DeBartolo Jr., the corrupt former owner of the San Francisco 49ers, who was convicted of a felony for his role in a bribery scheme involving Edwin Edwards, the former governor of Louisiana. Edwards went to prison. DeBartolo Jr., lost the 49ers. (Pardoned)

Michael Milken, the king of junk bonds, whose name is synonymous with insider trading, but who spent his time since jail rehabbing his image with donations for cancer research and more. (Pardoned)

Friends of Trump

It sure seems like the key to getting clemency from Trump is having friends who are close to him. And, barring that, appearing on Fox News -- as Blagojevich's wife did in 2019, expressly asking Trump to pardon her husband.

But that's nothing compared to this. Follow this circle all the way around:

Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who is under criminal investigation, asked for Kerik's pardon, according to the White House.

Kerik actively sought Trump's help on behalf of Eddie Gallagher, the Navy SEAL accused of war crimes.

Got that? Trump pardoned one guy who actively worked on behalf of another guy Trump pardoned.

Gallagher, the SEAL who beat those murder and war crimes charges with Trump's help, is mentioned as one of the distinguished individuals who in turn lobbied for Kerik's pardon.

Clemency loop

Trump's political benefactors, like Sheldon Adelson and Robert Kraft, asked for the Milken pardon. Kraft also asked for the DeBartolo pardon. We know this because their advocacy was spelled out in the White House statement announcing the actions.

In addition to the pardons and commutations above, Trump also gave clemency to a disgraced former Republican lobbyist, David Safavian.

He also commuted the sentences of three people recommended to him by Alice Johnson, who first came to his attention because he met with Kim Kardashian. Trump's justice is all about relationships, helping friends and punishing foes. Read Chris Cillizza's piece about this.

Who wasn't pardoned

His friend and political mentor Roger Stone was not pardoned, although he'll be sentenced Thursday.

Other convicts in Trump's orbit

His former national security adviser Michael Flynn and his former campaign manager Paul Manafort have got to be like, "What the heck?!

On Trump's list

It's also interesting to note that Trump told reporters at Andrews Air Force Base that he knows the identity of Anonymous, the administration official who wrote an op-ed about staffers undermining him and a book about how he shouldn't be reelected. He did not say who he thinks "Anonymous" is. After he punished impeachment witnesses like Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and Gordon Sondland, what do you think he'd do to Anonymous?

What else

Questioning caucuses -- I spent the day looking at whether Nevada's Democratic Party will be able to pull off a successful caucus (and whether caucuses should still be a thing).

Open bar on Bloomberg -- This element of an NBC piece about Mike Bloomberg's largesse caught my eye: "At one event at a brewery in Richmond, Virginia, a group of gun rights supporters showed up, telling NBC News they despised Bloomberg but had come for the free beer."

Oregonians out! -- Last week, our Kelly Mena was writing about a plan by conservative Virginians to join West Virginia. Now it's conservative Oregonians who want to join Idaho.

Calendar

Debate Wednesday - The Democratic debate in Nevada, featuring Mike Bloombeg at his first Democratic debate.

I very much look forward to Bloomberg and Sanders talking socialism.

Townhalls Thursday -- CNN will air townhalls with Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden.

What are we doing here?

The American system of government has been challenged to deal with a singular President and a divided country that will decide whether he should get another four years in the White House.

Stay tuned to this newsletter as we keep watch over the Trump administration, the 2020 presidential campaign and other issues of critical interest.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 282916

Reported Deaths: 3359
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin605241095
Ramsey25467477
Anoka20172216
Dakota19573179
Washington12799108
Stearns1254793
Scott764754
St. Louis763197
Wright683036
Olmsted616033
Sherburne522339
Clay449655
Carver420912
Blue Earth379511
Rice377732
Kandiyohi365915
Crow Wing324131
Nobles298029
Chisago28838
Otter Tail273315
Benton269340
Winona251828
Mower239723
Polk230621
Douglas228929
Morrison215321
Lyon200011
McLeod19289
Beltrami190415
Goodhue180926
Becker178810
Steele17296
Itasca170524
Isanti170216
Todd167412
Carlton161310
Nicollet148223
Freeborn14195
Mille Lacs136530
Le Sueur135010
Waseca131811
Cass12368
Pine12216
Brown121110
Meeker11187
Roseau10143
Martin100620
Hubbard100022
Wabasha9351
Redwood82718
Dodge7980
Chippewa7907
Watonwan7884
Cottonwood7431
Renville73118
Sibley7224
Wadena7166
Aitkin69224
Rock6779
Pipestone67318
Houston6242
Fillmore6150
Yellow Medicine58211
Pennington5576
Murray5433
Kanabec54112
Swift5266
Pope4910
Faribault4901
Stevens4552
Clearwater4456
Marshall4377
Jackson4291
Lake3654
Unassigned35856
Koochiching3475
Wilkin3305
Lac qui Parle3213
Lincoln3171
Norman3166
Big Stone2801
Mahnomen2554
Grant2396
Red Lake1973
Kittson1876
Traverse1340
Lake of the Woods891
Cook600

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 216579

Reported Deaths: 2240
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk32244325
Linn13583162
Scott1055981
Black Hawk10541131
Woodbury9984116
Johnson920835
Dubuque886590
Story656619
Dallas611456
Pottawattamie589167
Sioux356425
Webster345831
Marshall339244
Cerro Gordo332342
Clinton312337
Buena Vista293514
Muscatine273968
Des Moines270616
Warren264810
Plymouth261938
Wapello244071
Jones225313
Jasper208440
Marion196719
Carroll192621
Lee191716
Bremer187212
Henry17257
Crawford170715
Benton162716
Tama149440
Jackson138511
Delaware137221
Washington135813
Boone130711
Dickinson128510
Mahaska123427
Wright11835
Buchanan11249
Clay10964
Hardin109310
Page10854
Hamilton10477
Clayton10455
Harrison102428
Calhoun10237
Cedar102213
Fayette10008
Mills9977
Floyd98614
Lyon9858
Kossuth9675
Poweshiek95512
Butler9375
Winneshiek91510
Iowa89611
Winnebago88023
Louisa82316
Hancock8217
Grundy81711
Sac8077
Chickasaw8014
Cherokee7814
Cass77221
Appanoose7509
Shelby7346
Allamakee73211
Guthrie72415
Humboldt7205
Mitchell7204
Union7166
Emmet71424
Franklin68820
Madison6614
Jefferson6441
Palo Alto6114
Unassigned5961
Keokuk5537
Pocahontas5442
Howard5089
Greene5070
Osceola5031
Clarke4644
Ida45510
Davis4415
Taylor4352
Montgomery43410
Monroe43112
Adair4218
Monona4032
Fremont3483
Van Buren3434
Worth3410
Lucas3166
Decatur3070
Wayne2896
Audubon2841
Ringgold1902
Adams1551
Rochester
Overcast
34° wxIcon
Hi: 34° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 27°
Mason City
Overcast
38° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 30°
Albert Lea
Overcast
36° wxIcon
Hi: 36° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 29°
Austin
36° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 29°
Charles City
Overcast
37° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 30°
Looking Great For Thanksgiving Day
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events