Low-life gonna low-life. Photo by Evan Vucci/AP
In what was a good day if you're an old rich white guy committing felonies and a "legal dumpster fire" if you have any lingering shred of belief in the rule of law, the Mobster-In-Chief just pardoned or commuted the sentences of a bunch of convicted white-collar criminals, because low-lifes gonna low-life. The day's extra-legal blitz offered yet more proof if we needed it the unleashed, post-acquittal Trump - thanks Susan Collins - is determined to "give a big middle finger to justice," a concept rapidly disappearing, not by draining the proverbial swamp but by releasing every swamp creature he can - and, terrifyingly, he can - into the world.
Thus, the supremely swampy recipients of his largesse: Michael Milken, the "junk bond king" who became the face of corrupt insider trading in the 1980s, was convicted for securities fraud and tax evasion, earning him the title of "one of the most prolific financial criminals in U.S. history"; a White House statement boldy called him "one of America's greatest financiers." NFL owner Edward DeBartolo Jr. did gambling and bribery schemes. Former NYPD commissioner Bernie Kerik was convicted on nine counts of tax fraud and obstruction of justice, with help from mob ties; a judge blasted the "operatic" scope of his crimes, which did "immeasurable damage to the public trust."
Former Illinois governor and "epically unethical" Celebrity Apprentice wannabe Rod Blagojevich was similarly charged with “fully defrauding the public’s trust,” with crimes that some Chicagoans said "would make Abraham Lincoln roll over in his grave," even in a state where four of the last 10 governors have done time for corruption. Not only did Blago famously try to sell Obama's "fucking golden" Senate seat; he tried to shake down the CEO of a children's hospital by withholding $8 million in state funding until he got a $50,000 campaign contribution. Ripping off sick kids: For Trump, who commuted his 14 year sentence, what's not to like?
Many saw the gifts to fat-cat stars of corruption as a test run for Trump pardoning Stone, Manafort, Flynn, and all his criminal cronies. Some suggested Trump, the great fighter against corruption, was assembling a Corruption Dream Team of like-minded scumbags. Others wondered who'd be next on the Grifters' Parade of Pardons: Bernie Madoff, Hannibal Lecter, Freddy Krueger, The Unibomber, Bonnie and Clyde, John Wilkes Booth, Jeffrey Epstein/Charles Manson (posthumously), maybe followed by Medals of Freedom? Trump himself explained his act with typical insight and eloquence. The sentence for Blagojevich, who was convicted on 17 charges by "overwhelming evidence" and whose appeals went up to the Supreme Court, was "a tremendously powerful, ridiculous sentence in my opinion," he said. He also noted he'd seen Blagojevich's wife on Fox News and his kids didn't like seeing their father in an orange jumpsuit. “He seems like a very nice person,” he said. “Don’t know him.”
Update: Freed yesterday,Blagojevich is already yammering away to the press, describing himself as a born-again "Trumpocrat" and "political prisoner" and invoking - no, really - Martin Luther King Jr.: "Truth crushed to earth will one day rise again because no lie can live forever.” He also had a message for Illinois voters, who right before his arrest gave him a job approval rating of 13%. "I didn’t let you down. I would have let you down if I gave in to this, but resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.” Down the pike, we def see a job for him in this swampy revolving-door administration. Ethics Chief?
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— Snapping Turtle (@Snappin76928646) February 18, 2020
— Debbie Ahern (@savetheturtles2) February 19, 2020