President Donald Trump on Tuesday used his sweeping presidential pardon powers to forgive the crimes of a list of prominent names, including disgraced politician Rod Blagojevich, junk bond king Michael Milken and former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik, the Washington Post reports. Trump pardoned or commuted the sentences of seven white-collar criminals at the center of anti-corruption and tax fraud cases spanning decades and four women whose cases were not so well known. The action frees Blagojevich, the former Democratic governor of Illinois, from the prison in Colorado where he was serving a 14-year sentence. He was convicted for trying to sell President-elect Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat. The Trump actions fit a pattern of personal presidential justice that largely bypasses the pardon process administered by the Justice Department.
Milken became a symbol of the culture of greed during the 1980s that was fictionalized in movies such as “Wall Street,” where Michael Douglas plays ruthless financier Gordon Gekko, who declares that “greed is good.” Milken rose to prominence for his role in developing high-interest-bearing securities markets before pleading guilty in 1990 to six felony counts. He has sought to rehabilitate his image by becoming a major donor to causes such as cancer research. Also on Trump’s pardon list were Kerik, who was convicted of tax fraud, and Edward DeBartolo Jr., the billionaire former owner of the San Francisco 49ers, who pleaded guilty two decades ago to charges related to a corruption case against former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards. The president also pardoned David Safavian, a senior official in the George W. Bush administration who was convicted of obstructing a federal investigation, technology executive Ariel Friedler and construction company executive Paul Pogue, who were convicted of computer and tax charges.