Rod Blagojevich, Scooter Libby, Conrad Black. What do they all have in common? Each of them has been granted clemency by President Donald Trump after each of them was prosecuted by James Comey’s lawyer and longtime pal Patrick Fitzgerald.
Let’s review some of the history here.
Trump pardoned former George W. Bush White House official Scooter Libby in April 2018. Libby was Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff. He was convicted of obstruction of justice related to the investigation of the leak of CIA officer Valerie Plame’s identity. From the Law&Crime archives on the Fitzgerald and Comey connection here:
[Plame] was working undercover when her identity was leaked in 2003. Libby was not charged with the leak, but was indicted on counts of obstruction of justice, perjury, and providing false statements to investigators in connection to the investigation of the leak. The charges came following an investigation by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, who was appointed by then-Deputy Attorney General James Comey.
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway memorably said of Libby’s pardon that “Many people think that Scooter Libby was the victim of a special counsel gone amok.”
In Dec. 2007, Conrad Black, a well-known member of Britain’s House of Lords and newspaper publisher, was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison for wire fraud and obstruction of justice in connection with the “defrauding [of] shareholders in one-time newspaper publishing giant Hollinger International Inc.”.
“A lot of people lost a lot of money […] the bottom line is he serves 6-1/2 years in jail. That’s a lot of time,” Fitzgerald said at the time.
But that wasn’t the bottom line. Less than three years later, Black was out of prison and appealing his conviction. The Supreme Court took a look at the case in 2010 and partially reversed the conviction (more on what happened there). Black ultimately served more than three years in prison.
Black, who wrote about book about Trump, wrote online after receiving the Trump pardon that he and the president had a lot in common–namely, run-ins with “bad cops” Robert Mueller, Comey and Fitzgerald:
I suggested that [Trump] knew ”better than anyone” the antics of some U.S. prosecutors. (I had had Robert Mueller as director of the FBI, which we caught installing illegal bugging devices in our home in New York and in many falsehoods; James Comey as deputy attorney-general, and Patrick Fitzgerald, now Comey’s counsel, as U.S. attorney in Chicago. They were all, as my distinguished caller on Monday has described Comey, “bad cops.”) We moved briefly on to generalities, greetings to wives, I thanked him for his call and again for the purpose of his call, and the conversation ended.
Trump pardoned Black in May 2019.
Fitzgerald and the rest of the prosecutors who put Blago away were clearly pissed, having released a statement on Tuesday reciting chapter and verse the details of his corruption.
Blagojevich is the former Celebrity Apprentice contestant and impeached former Democratic Illinois governor who was imprisoned, among other things, for trying to sell Barack Obama’s Senate seat.
The statement from Fitzgerald et al. on the Blagojevich commutation can basically be summed up as: Yeah, Trump lawfully exercised his authority to commute the 14-year sentence, but Blagojevich was seriously corrupt and justly punished.
There’s no way any of this played a role in Trump ‘s decision-making, right? Well… when discussing the Blagojevich sentence he called it a “tremendously powerful” one and blamed Comey and “Fitzpatrick” for it. He created a sort of portmanteau. Patrick Fitzgerald became Fitzpatrick. In short, Comey and his pal were on the president’s mind.
JUST IN: Pres. Trump says he has commuted former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's sentence, calling it a "tremendously powerful, ridiculous sentence," and claiming "it was a prosecution by the same people, Comey, Fitzpatrick, the same group." https://t.co/9oQG09bxZA pic.twitter.com/KnBmMrJsEl
— ABC News (@ABC) February 18, 2020
[Image via Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images]
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