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President Trump Pardons Conservative Political Allies

by Douglas Ankney

In a continued pattern of granting clemency to conservative political allies, on May 15, 2019, President Trump pardoned former newspaper mogul Conrad M. Black, who served 42 months in federal prison after being convicted of fraud and obstruction of justice in 2007. The charges were related to illegally pocketing money from his company, Hollinger International. Black was originally sentenced to 78 months but two counts of fraud were reversed on appeal, resulting in a reduced sentence. PLN published an interview with him in 2012. [See: PLN, Sept. 2012, p.1].

Black, a Canadian citizen, once headed a newspaper empire that included the Chicago Sun-Times, The Jerusalem Post and The Daily Telegraph. Upon his release, he was deported to Canada and now writes columns for the National Post. Black, a friend and outspoken supporter of Trump, frequently praises the president in his newspaper columns. In 2015, Black wrote a column titled “Trump is the Good Guy.” In reply, Trump tweeted, “[W]hat an honor to read your piece. As one of the truly great intellects & my friend, I won’t forget!” 

Last year, Black published a biography titled Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other. In the first chapter he wrote, “Donald Trump’s nature has always been to believe that almost anything can be achieved – that almost any obstacle and challenge can be overcome – through very hard work and cunning.” 

Then-White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Black was an “entrepreneur and scholar” who “has made tremendous contributions to business, as well as to political and historical thought.” 

“We’ve known each other a long time,” President Trump reportedly told Black when granting him a pardon. “But that wasn’t any part of the reason. Nor has any of the supportive things you’ve said and written about me.”

Trump also pardoned Pat Nolan, director of the American Conservative Union Foundation’s Center for Criminal Justice Reform. Nolan, the former director of Justice Fellowship, an affiliate of the faith-based Prison Fellowship, was an ardent supporter of the First Step Act – bipartisan criminal justice legislation that Trump signed into law last year. [See: PLN, Jan. 2019, p.34]. Nolan was a California state lawmaker when, in 1994, he was convicted of accepting illegal campaign contributions and received a 33-month prison sentence.

The White House said in a statement, “Mr. Nolan’s experiences with prosecutors and in prison changed his life. Upon his release, he became a tireless advocate for criminal justice reform and victims’ rights.” 

Trump often uses his clemency power to make political statements. He has pardoned conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza (convicted of making an illegal campaign contribution), former Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio (convicted of criminal contempt for disregarding a federal court order) and former Bush White House aide Scooter Libby (convicted of obstruction of justice, perjury and making false statements), among others. [See: PLN, July 2019, p.40]. 

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Sources: usatoday.com, npr.org, cnn.com, nationalpost.com, The New York Times