Trump grants pardon to activist Jon Ponder ahead of convention appearance

President Trump has pardoned Jon Ponder, a convicted felon who has since founded a program aimed at helping former inmates reenter society and who will speak at the Republican National Convention later Tuesday.

Trump signed a full pardon for Ponder in a seven-minute video released by the White House on Tuesday ahead of the second evening of programming for the GOP convention.

Ponder and Richard Beasley, the former FBI agent who arrested Ponder and has since become one of his best friends, delivered remarks alongside Trump during the convention later Tuesday, the theme of which is “Land of Opportunity.”

The video of Trump signing the pardon, which was filmed at the White House, aired following their remarks.

“Two years ago, I was honored to tell Jon Ponder’s story of transformation in the Rose Garden on the National Day of Prayer,” Trump said in the video. “Jon’s life is a beautiful testament to the power of redemption.”

Trump described how Ponder, after being arrested for bank robbery, began studying the Bible in prison and later founded “Hope for Prisoners,” a reentry program in Nevada that helps former prisoners begin productive lives.

“I will continue to give all Americans, including former inmates, the best chance to build a new life and achieve their own American dream,” Trump said.

“Today, praise God, I am filled with hope — a proud American citizen who has been given a second chance,” said Ponder, who with Beasley appeared alongside Trump in the video.

Trump invited Ponder’s wife into the room before announcing he would grant him a full pardon, causing Ponder to tear up.

Ponder, who was a three-time convicted felon, was granted pardons by the Nevada Board of Pardons for state crimes earlier this year. Trump’s action clears a federal bank robbery charge from Ponder’s record.

Trump was the guest speaker at the Hope for Prisoners graduation ceremony in Las Vegas in February. He met with Ponder and Beasley during the 2018 National Day of Prayer at the White House.

Updated at 8:51 p.m.

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