Sanders slams Trump pardons as part of 'broken and racist criminal justice system'

Sanders slams Trump pardons as part of 'broken and racist criminal justice system'
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Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden campaign: Trump and former vice president will have phone call about coronavirus Judge slams Wisconsin governor, lawmakers for not delaying election amid coronavirus outbreak The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden offers to talk coronavirus response with Trump MORE (I-Vt.) slammed President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden campaign: Trump and former vice president will have phone call about coronavirus Esper: Military personnel could help treat coronavirus patients 'if push comes to shove' Schumer calls for military official to act as medical equipment czar MORE over a handful of pardons and commutations he announced Tuesday, saying the move was indicative of a criminal justice system that goes easy on wealthy and powerful people.

The rebuke came after Trump announced he granted clemency for several people, including for Rod Blagojevich, the former Illinois governor imprisoned on corruption charges; Bernie Kerik, a former New York police commissioner; financier Michael Milken and former San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo, Jr.

“Today, Trump granted clemency to tax cheats, Wall Street crooks, billionaires, and corrupt government officials. Meanwhile thousands of poor and working-class kids sit in jail for nonviolent drug convictions. This is what a broken and racist criminal justice system looks like,” tweeted Sanders. 

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Sanders, a 2020 presidential candidate, has repeatedly criticized the criminal justice system on the campaign trail, saying it focuses too much on punishing people of color for nonviolent offenses while turning a blind eye to financial wrongdoing and other white collar crime.

Blagojevich was the highest-profile figure to receive a commutation Tuesday.

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The former governor began a 14-year prison sentence in 2012 for corruption charges, including attempted extortion of a children's hospital for campaign contributions and trying to sell former President Obama’s Senate seat after he was elected to the White House in 2008.

"I did commute [Blagojevich's] sentence. So he’ll be able to go back home with his family after serving eight years in jail," Trump told reporters Tuesday. "That was a tremendously powerful, ridiculous sentence in my opinion, and in the opinion of many others." 

Kerik had been convicted on tax fraud, Milken pleaded guilty in 1990 to six counts of securities and tax violations and DeBartolo pleaded guilty in 1998 for failing to report that he was extorted by an ex-Louisiana governor. 

Blagojevich’s commutation set off some harsh criticism by both Democrats and Republicans. 

"As our state continues to grapple with political corruption, we shouldn’t let those who breached the public trust off the hook. History will not judge Rod Blagojevich well," Republican Illinois Reps. Darin LaHoodDarin McKay LaHoodBlagojevich calls himself a 'Trumpocrat,' praises Trump after release from prison Sanders slams Trump pardons as part of 'broken and racist criminal justice system' Illinois GOP House delegation blasts Blagojevich commutation: 'The face of public corruption' MORE, John ShimkusJohn Mondy ShimkusOvernight Energy: Trump rolls back Obama-era fuel efficiency standards | Controversial Keystone XL construction to proceed | Pressure mounts to close national parks amid pandemic Critics blast Trump mileage rollback, citing environment and health concerns Pelosi not invited by Trump to White House coronavirus relief bill's signing MORE, Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerLawmakers urge EU to sanction Putin associate for election interference Blagojevich calls himself a 'Trumpocrat,' praises Trump after release from prison Sanders slams Trump pardons as part of 'broken and racist criminal justice system' MORE, Rodney DavisRodney Lee DavisTrump says election proposals in coronavirus stimulus bill would hurt Republican chances Hillicon Valley: Facebook reports huge spike in usage during pandemic | Democrats push for mail-in voting funds in coronavirus stimulus | Trump delays deadline to acquire REAL ID Democrats press for more stimulus funding to boost mail-in voting MORE and Mike BostMichael (Mike) J. BostMORE said in a statement.