President Donald Trump granted executive clemency Tuesday to former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, as well as to ex-New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik and to Edward DeBartolo Jr., former owner of the San Francisco 49ers football team.
Trump also announced that he had pardoned Michael Milken, the former junk bond king who became a face of the insider trading financial scandals of the 1980s.
In all, Trump granted some form of executive clemency to 11 individuals Tuesday, according to the White House.
Trump commuted the remainder of Blagojevich's 14-year prison term. The Illinois Democrat had begun serving that sentence in 2012 after he was found guilty of attempting to trade the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama for money or favors.
Blagojevich was scheduled for release on March 13, 2024, according to the Bureau of Prisons. Trump has floated the possibility of commuting Blagojevich's sentence for nearly two years.
In a joint statement, the former U.S. attorney in Chicago and the ex-federal attorneys who prosecuted Blagojevich stressed that the former governor's crimes were "very serious" and deserved to be punished.
"That has to be the case in America: a justice system must hold public officials accountable for corruption. It would be unfair to their victims and the public to do otherwise," they said.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said that Blagojevich "betrayed the people of Illinois and engaged in a pattern of corrupt behavior for which he was held accountable and which cost him more than seven years of freedom."
Durbin called for the enactment of "stricter ethics requirements, including the full detailed disclosure of income, net worth, and income tax returns by all elected officials."
Kerik oversaw the NYPD under then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is now the president's personal lawyer, during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Kerik was nominated in 2004 to lead the Department of Homeland Security under then-President George W. Bush.
Kerik pleaded guilty in 2009 to charges of felony tax fraud and lying to the government; He was released from federal prison in 2013.
"I think it's long overdue," Kerik's lawyer, Timothy Parlatore, told CNBC after he heard the news of Trump's plan to pardon Kerik.
"It's something that I've been fighting for for several years," Parlatore said.
Kerik thanked Trump profusely later Tuesday in a statement he posted on Twitter: "With the exception of the birth of my children, today is one of the greatest days in my life — being made a full and whole American citizen again."
Earlier Tuesday, the White House said that Trump had signed an executive order granting DeBartolo a full pardon related to a decades-old corruption charge.
The wave of clemency came as Trump has hinted that he might be considering a pardon for his longtime friend Roger Stone, who was convicted last fall of lying to Congress about his contacts during the 2016 presidential election with the document disclosure group WikiLeaks.
Federal prosecutors last week recommended that a judge give Stone a harsh sentence of seven to nine years in prison. Trump raged against that recommendation on Twitter hours after their sentencing memo was made public in Washington, D.C., federal court.
The next day, the Department of Justice led by Attorney General William Barr revised its recommended sentence for Stone, asking Judge Amy Berman Jackson for "far less" time in prison for the Republican operative.
"I think he's being treated unfairly," Trump said when asked if he was planning to pardon Stone as well.
But Trump did grant full pardons and commutations to other figures, the White House revealed in a statement later Tuesday.
Pardons were given to former Symplicity CEO Ariel Friedler, who in 2014 admitted conspiring to hack into his competitors' computer systems; Paul Pogue, who pleaded guilty to underpaying on his taxes over a three-year period; David Safavian, who was convicted of perjury; and Angela Stanton, a Trump-supporting television personality.
Trump also granted commutations to Tynice Nicole Hall and Crystal Munoz, both of whom were given lengthy prison sentences for drug-related offenses. He also signed an order granting a commutation for Judith Negron, who was sentenced to 35 years behind bars for Medicare fraud.
Correction: Rod Blagojevich began serving his prison sentence in 2012. An earlier version misstated the year.