In a likely warmup for his coming pardon of Roger Stone, a president who howls about law and order while flagrantly flouting both has just wiped away former NYPD commissioner Bernie Kerik’s federal corruption conviction and freed former Illinois governor and epically unethical “Celebrity Apprentice” cast member Rod Blagojevich from federal lockup.
Recall Bernie Kerik’s crimes: He hid $250,000 worth of renovations to a Bronx apartment gifted to him by a city-business-seeking company with alleged mob ties. He lied to federal officials during the vetting process for the top homeland security job under George W. Bush.
After serving three years, Kerik’s long since left prison; Trump’s pardon gives him not one additional day of freedom. But if the pardon is unconditional, that wipes away $103,322.05 of the $187,931 restitution owed federal taxpayers.
Meanwhile, it pleases ex-boss Rudy Giuliani. And lays the groundwork for Trump to ably claim he opposes politically motivated punishment no matter who gets hurt, if and when he bails out Stone, Paul Manafort and others.
Which brings us to the commutation of Blagojevich’s sentence, on the south side of a 14-year sentence for using his power to appoint Barack Obama’s replacement to the U.S. Senate to strong-arm campaign cash. And trying to get the head of a children’s hospital to deliver $25,000 in campaign contributions in exchange for a hike in state health care reimbursements. And withholding approval of legislation to help the horseracing industry until the owner of a racetrack could pony up a $10,000 donation.
Blagojevich’s crimes affirmed the very worst of what voters think politicians are capable of.
That is, until Donald Trump came along.