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In 2015, Trump assured Conrad Black he “won’t forget” his support for him. He followed through on his promise.
On Wednesday, President Donald Trump followed through on a campaign promise he made to Conrad Black, a former media mogul and business partner, by pardoning him for fraud and obstruction of justice convictions.
In late 2015, Black — who was convicted in 2007 and spent more than three years in prison before being released in 2012 — wrote a piece for National Review headlined “Trump Is the Good Guy.”
“It is time to look more seriously at the Donald Trump presidential candidacy,” the piece begins. “Donald Trump — who, I should disclose, is an old friend, a fine and generous and loyal man, and a delightful companion — is striking very close to the heart of the American problem: the corrupt, dysfunctional political system and the dishonest media.”
Trump, who also partnered with Black in the construction of Trump Tower in Chicago, shared Black’s piece on Twitter, adding that “[a]s one of the truly great intellects & my friend, I won’t forget!”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 15, 2015
That campaign promise turned out to be one Trump kept. On Wednesday, the White House granted Black a full pardon. The administration’s justification for the pardon doesn’t cite a legal basis but notes Black’s “tremendous contributions to business, as well as to political and historical thought.” As Politico describes it, Black was convicted for his role “in a ploy to swindle millions of dollars from investors in his media company.”
Black’s National Review piece wasn’t the only time he penned praise for Trump. More recently, he wrote a book titled Donald J Trump: A President Like No Other. The book describes Trump as “not, in fact, a racist, sexist, warmonger, hothead, promoter of violence, or a foreign or domestic economic warrior.”
“Like the country he represents, Donald Trump possesses the optimism to persevere and succeed, the confidence to affront tradition and convention, a genius for spectacle, and a firm belief in common sense and the common man,” the first page begins.
In a column about his pardon written Wednesday for Canada’s National Post, a publication he founded, Black details the call he received from Trump last week in which he was informed about the pardon. He claims Trump told him his public praise played no role in the decision, which Trump said was motivated by his desire to “expunge the bad rap you got”:
“We’ve known each other a long time,” the president told me, “but that wasn’t any part of the reason. Nor has any of the supportive things you’ve said and written about me.” I suggested that he knew ”better than anyone” the antics of some U.S. prosecutors.
In its statement announcing the pardon, the White House mentions character endorsements Black has received from Henry Kissinger, Elton John, and Rush Limbaugh, as well as books Black wrote about Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Richard Nixon, but omits mention of his glowing book about Trump.
Black’s pardon isn’t the first Trump has given to a prominent conservative pundit who has helped him politically. Last year, Trump pardoned Dinesh D’Souza, erasing his 2014 felony conviction for making illegal contributions to a Republican US Senate candidate. D’Souza, like Trump, gained notoriety via pushing racist conspiracy theories about Barack Obama, and during the 2016 campaign directed a film in which he warned of Hillary Clinton’s purported plan to “steal” the country.
In addition to Black, the White House announced on Wednesday that Trump is pardoning Patrick Nolan, a former Republican leader of the California state assembly who pleaded guilty to a racketeering charge and spent 29 months in federal custody. The Washington Post notes that Nolan, like Black, is close to Trump. Last year, Nolan, who now works with the American Conservative Union Foundation’s Center for Criminal Justice Reform, publicly criticized the Mueller investigation, telling RealClearPolitics it was evidence of a legal system in which lawmakers “decide who they’re going to prosecute and then hunt for a crime.”
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