Trump should pick Kim Kardashian West as his pardon adviser

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CNN's John Avlon warns that President Trump's recent pardons are helping further normalize corruption.

Posted: Feb 20, 2020 7:21 AM
Updated: Feb 20, 2020 7:21 AM

The acting pardon attorney of the US is Rosalind Sargent-Burns, but after Tuesday's spate of celebrity pardons, there's reason to wonder if the role should be offered to Geraldo Rivera -- or Kim Kardashian West.

When President Barack Obama pardoned 78 people in December 2016, the White House announcement simply listed those given pardons and commuted sentences, along with details of their offenses.

But when President Trump used his powers to give clemency to 11 people, the press secretary's statement was larded with the often-famous names of those vouching for the pardoned.

In the case of former NYC Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik, the President appeared to have relied on the advice of Fox News' Geraldo Rivera, former Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, whose rank the President restored after he had been demoted for posing in a photo with a dead ISIS prisoner, and Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and others. (In the 1990s, Kerik had been Giuliani's driver and bodyguard.)

This is not a new situation as the President famously met with Kim Kardashian West prior to his grant of clemency to Alice Marie Johnson in 2018. In the same year, he got the idea to pardon the late boxing legend Jack Johnson from Sylvester Stallone.

All these pardons may have been warranted under the circumstances. Alice Marie Johnson, for instance, was a sympathetic grandmother who got sentenced to life in prison on her first offense, a drug trafficking and money laundering rap.

When Trump's campaign ran a Super Bowl ad touting the pardon granted to Johnson, the Washington Post pointed out on February 3, "The ad didn't mention Kim Kardashian West -- or that all but five of the 24 people who have received clemency from Trump had a line into the White House or currency with his political base, according to a review by the Post.

As the administration takes its cues from celebrities, political allies and Fox News, thousands of other offenders who followed Justice Department rules are waiting, passed over as cases that were brought directly to Trump leaped to the front of the line."

The Office of the Pardon Attorney was formed over 125 years ago to assist the president in making informed decisions regarding the granting of pardons. The website of the office outlines the elaborate vetting process that it suggests for the consideration of a presidential pardon or sentence commutation. The office suggests that usually, though not always, an expression of remorse for the crime committed is appropriate.

There are also detailed guidelines pertaining to the individuals who should be interviewed on behalf of the pardon attorney before a clemency recommendation is forwarded to the president. Extensive consultation with the Department of Justice, the assistant US attorneys who tried the case and even the sentencing judge is strongly suggested in Office of the Pardon Attorney regulations. It is possible that all of this was done with respect to the Bernie Kerik pardon, but I have my doubts.

Of course, President Trump did consult with the judiciary regarding the Kerik pardon as suggested by the regulations of the Office of the Pardon Attorney. In fact, he reached out to two jurists, Fox News' Judge Andrew Napolitano and former New Jersey Superior Court Judge Ray Reddin.

Judge Napolitano was most assuredly not the trial judge in the Bernie Kerik case. Judge Reddin could not have been the Kerik judge as he never served on the federal bench and the Kerik matter was a federal case. He formerly served as a superior court judge in Passaic County, New Jersey, where Bernie Kerik once served as an officer in the sheriff's department.

The trial judge in the Kerik case was Judge Stephen Robinson, of the Southern District of New York. After Kerik pleaded guilty to tax fraud and false statement charges, the judge handed down a particularly harsh four-year prison sentence, stating on the record, "The fact that Mr. Kerik would use (the 9/11 attacks) for personal gain and aggrandizement is a dark place in the soul for me.."

Perhaps the President knew of Judge Robinson's rather dim view of Mr Kerik's character but the White House press release describes the former NYC police commissioner as someone who "embodied the strength, courage, compassion and spirit of the people of New York" during the 9/11 attacks.

There is no mention of his use of the tragedy for "personal gain," as noted by Judge Robinson.

It remains a possibility that Bernie Kerik, Michael Milken and some or all the individuals granted executive clemency to date by President Trump were deserving of the President's mercy. Public confidence would be greatly enhanced, however, if the President made clear whether the vetting of the celebrities who received clemency took place in full accordance with the regulations and vetting process as suggested by the Office of the Pardon Attorney.

This is only fair, given the thousands of applications for clemency processed by that office annually.

Or there's always the option of appointing Kim Kardashian West. She is obviously someone the President trusts.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 248189

Reported Deaths: 5411
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto16841171
Hinds15890312
Harrison13037191
Rankin10439205
Jackson10128177
Lee8721135
Madison8071160
Jones6166108
Forrest5870117
Lauderdale5724177
Lowndes5238109
Lafayette486192
Lamar475363
Washington4734122
Bolivar3941106
Oktibbeha388179
Panola360475
Pontotoc358752
Monroe3487103
Warren337895
Union337457
Marshall336065
Neshoba3325150
Pearl River319492
Leflore2980104
Lincoln293385
Sunflower277569
Tate266659
Alcorn260651
Itawamba258858
Pike258176
Hancock253557
Prentiss242450
Scott241043
Yazoo237754
Copiah237449
Tippah236246
Simpson232367
Leake227864
Coahoma223154
Grenada215770
Covington208871
Marion206171
Adams201666
Winston198061
George197438
Wayne196130
Attala191658
Newton186542
Chickasaw181243
Tishomingo179659
Holmes167867
Jasper165134
Clay156732
Stone140218
Tallahatchie138234
Clarke136460
Calhoun133321
Smith118823
Yalobusha113834
Walthall111136
Noxubee109622
Greene108929
Montgomery108134
Carroll103721
Lawrence101217
Perry99131
Amite96425
Webster90624
Claiborne85125
Tunica84521
Jefferson Davis83825
Humphreys81524
Benton80323
Kemper75720
Quitman6758
Franklin65315
Choctaw59613
Wilkinson58125
Jefferson53019
Sharkey42417
Issaquena1586
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 417528

Reported Deaths: 6030
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson61313888
Mobile29768542
Madison26637185
Tuscaloosa20580268
Montgomery18696304
Shelby18310113
Baldwin16002179
Lee12261101
Morgan12093112
Etowah11604157
Calhoun10982200
Marshall10108107
Houston8474129
Cullman7960104
Limestone790174
Elmore7723101
DeKalb764697
St. Clair7460120
Lauderdale745183
Talladega6102108
Walker5852174
Jackson574441
Blount526483
Colbert525670
Autauga510355
Coffee434256
Dale391081
Franklin363445
Chilton333565
Covington326167
Russell323810
Escambia312442
Dallas300296
Clarke278233
Chambers277869
Tallapoosa2599107
Pike245829
Marion240549
Lawrence240447
Winston223835
Bibb213047
Geneva197431
Marengo197329
Pickens195231
Hale173742
Barbour171236
Butler167958
Fayette166026
Cherokee159630
Henry151119
Monroe144417
Randolph138535
Washington136526
Clay125246
Crenshaw118044
Lamar116619
Cleburne116023
Macon113335
Lowndes108735
Wilcox101221
Bullock98128
Perry95419
Conecuh92920
Sumter88726
Greene75323
Coosa60414
Choctaw51224
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