Trump grants Christie pardon request; Lawmaker says ‘scoundrels’ getting help
One of the grants of clemency issued by President Donald Trump on Tuesday was at the request of former Gov. Chris Christie.
Trump took clemency actions related to 11 people, his latest interventions in the justice system as he faces growing criticism for weighing in on the cases of former aides. Trump made clear that he saw similarities between efforts to investigate his own conduct.
“It was a prosecution by the same people — Comey, Fitzpatrick, the same group," Trump told reporters. He was referring to Patrick Fitzgerald, the former U.S. attorney who prosecuted one of those granted clemency, former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, and now represents former FBI Director James Comey, who Trump fired in May 2017. Comey was working in the private sector during the Blagojevich investigation and indictment.
Blagojevich was also a contestant on Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice" TV show.
Christie asked for a full pardon for former CEO Ariel Friedler, who pled guilty in 2014 to conspiracy to access a protected computer without authorization and served two months in prison, according to a statement from the White House. Friedler was forced to sell his company, Symplicity Corp.
"Ariel Friedler is a good man & I am proud to represent him, along with Senator Jeff Chiesa, to seek the justice that only a pardon could provide. Chris Christie asked Trump to pardon this former CEO. The president just did," Christie said in a message on his Twitter account.
The former governor told NJ.com that Friedler’s sentence was a “complete overreaction by the U.S. attorney’s office.”
"During the investigation, his time in prison, and after his release, Mr. Friedler expressed deep remorse for his action. Since his release, Mr. Friedler has volunteered his time and expertise to promoting veterans issues and helping former prisoners reenter and rejoin society," the White House said in its statement.
The state of Florida restored his license to practice law, according to the White House.
The actions drew alarm from U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., who accused Trump of using his unfettered pardon power “to shield unrepentant felons, racists and corrupt scoundrels.”
Full pardons were granted to Friedler, Edward DeBartolo Jr., Michael Milken, Bernard Kerik, Paul Pogue, David Safavian, and Angela Stanton. Executive grants of clemency granting commutations were given to Blagojevich, Tynice Nichole Hall, Crystal Munoz and Judith Negron.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.