Federal judge: ‘Not surprising that a criminal like Trump pardons other criminals’
A federal judge in Iowa slammed President Trump’s recent pardons on Tuesday, saying, “It’s not surprising that a criminal like Trump pardons other criminals.”
U.S. District Judge Robert Pratt made the statement during an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday.
Pratt said, “Apparently to get a pardon, one has to be either a Republican, a convicted child murderer or a turkey.”
Pratt was referring to Trump’s Republican allies in the government, security contractors convicted of killing civilians in Iraq and the turkey that is pardoned each Thanksgiving.
The AP reports that Pratt’s statement came when he was asked by the news outlet for a comment on the recent pardoning of former aides for ex-Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) who were convicted on corruption charges related to the Iowa caucuses.
Jesse Benton and John Tate both worked on Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign, reports the AP, and were convicted of hiding $73,000 worth of payments to former Iowa state Sen. Kent Sorenson (R) in exchange for his endorsement of Paul. Both men were sentenced to six months of home confinement and probation before Trump pardoned then.
Pratt oversaw Sorenson’s case in 2017 and sentenced him to 15 months in prison despite prosecutors recommending a more lenient sentence in light of Sorenson’s guilty plea and cooperation, notes the AP.
Sorenson’s testimony ultimately helped convict Benton and Tate as well as Dimitri Kesari, former deputy campaign manager for Paul.
The AP notes that Paul’s son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), supported the pardoning of Benton and Tate.
Trump has pardoned several close allies in recent months and is reportedly considering issuing preemptive pardons for his children and son-in-law Jared Kushner. The president is also said to be considering pardoning himself, the legality of which has fallen into question.
On Tuesday, Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen suggested that the allies Trump has pardoned could ultimately become his downfall, as they could testify against him and would be unable to invoke the Fifth Amendment.
In an interview on MSNBC, Cohen said, “Once you get that pardon, you’re no longer able to invoke the Fifth Amendment … because you cannot be charged. All of these people may ultimately be his downfall simply because they’ll be testifying against him.”