Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

President Donald Trump listens to Attorney General William Barr during the 38th Annual National Peace Officers' Memorial Service at the west front of the Capitol May 15, 2019 in Washington, D.C.

President Donald Trump listens to Attorney General William Barr during the 38th Annual National Peace Officers' Memorial Service at the west front of the Capitol May 15, 2019 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

After Granting Blagojevich and Others Clemency, Trump Calls Himself the 'Chief Law Enforcement Officer of the Country'

"NARRATOR: He is not the chief law enforcement officer in the country."

Eoin Higgins

Telling reporters on the tarmac at Joint Base Andrews that he had commuted the sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and pardoned former San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo, financier Michael Milken, and former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik, President Donald Trump said that in his own opinion he was the country's top cop. 

"I'm actually, I guess, the chief law enforcement officer of the country," Trump said. 

Watch:

"NARRATOR: He is not the chief law enforcement officer in the country," tweeted filmmaker Billy Corben.

As Attorney General, a position created by the Judiciary Act of 1789, William Barr is the nation's chief law enforcement officer.

But, as New York Times reporter Charlie Savage pointed out on Twitter, Barr himself endorses Trump's view.

"William Barr likes to say that the president is the chief law enforcement officer of the country," said Savage. "It's part of his unitary executive theory mindset."

Trump's decision to commute and pardon Tuesday's quartet was seen by observers as another example of the president's corruption.

In a statement, Common Cause Illinois said that by commuting Blagojevich's sentence, Trump was sending a clear message to other corrupt politicians. 

"This decision is wrong and deprives the people of Illinois the justice they deserve," the group said. "After consistently ignoring our nation's ethics norms and laws for the last three years, President Trump has now chosen to side with the long line of Illinois politicians that have been imprisoned or had their careers ended due to corruption."

Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) issued a scathing statement on the pardons, drawing attention to Milken's crimes in particular. 

"Trump has used pardons almost exclusively to shield unrepentant felons, racists, and corrupt scoundrels like Blagojevich and now Milken, one of the most prolific financial criminals in U.S. history," said Pascrell. "The presidential pardon is sacred under the Constitution and perhaps represents Trump's most dangerous abuse of power precisely because the pardon power is unfettered and cannot be reviewed by Congress or the courts."

In a statement, Media Matters for America spokesperson Laura Keiter said that Trump's tying of the pardons and commutations to Fox News was just another example of the corrupting influence of the network.

"President Trump's pardon of Bernard Kerik and commutation of Rod Blagojevich's sentence are further proof that Fox News continues to help drive the agenda of Trump's White House," said Keiter. "This is the 11th time that Trump's use of executive clemency and pardons has been linked to his Fox News obsession."

Blagojevich's appearance on Trump's long-lived NBC reality show "The Apprentice" and the president's history of attacking the Central Park Five present a telling contrast, said Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington researcher Robert Maguire.

"As Trump commutes the sentence of a former contestant on his reality TV show who went to jail for crimes he was literally caught committing, it's worth noting that Trump called for the Central Park Five to get the death penalty, and he still thinks they're guilty," said Maguire.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Scientists to BlackRock Vice Chairman: New Fossil Fuel Development 'Incompatible' With 1.5°C

"The only responsible course of action is to do everything in our power to stop fossil fuel expansion and further emissions."

Jessica Corbett ·


Goldman Prize Awarded to Activists Who Showed Nature's 'Amazing Capability to Regenerate'

"While the many challenges before us can feel daunting, and at times make us lose faith, these seven leaders give us a reason for hope and remind us what can be accomplished in the face of adversity."

Julia Conley ·


Faith Leaders Call for Federal Election Monitors in Georgia to Protect Black Voters

"It is imperative that our election this November is monitored to preserve ballot integrity and ensure ballot security."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Inaction Is Bought': Here Are the Receipts on NRA's Purchase of GOP

"The issue is money in politics," said Nina Turner after the nation's latest mass killing of students and teachers. Right-wing lawmakers are "allowing children to die because of the gun lobby."

Kenny Stancil ·


'This Is on You!' Beto Interrupts Abbott Press Conference on Texas Massacre

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke accused Texas' GOP leaders of "doing nothing and offering us nothing" in the wake of the massacre at Robb Elementary School.

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo