Donald Trumps decision to grant clemency to well-connected insiders was met with swift backlash after the president commuted prison sentences and pardoned officials charged with tax fraud and lying to investigators, among other crimes. 
The president granted a total of seven pardons and four commutations on Tuesday for prominent figures like Rod Blagojevich, the former Illinois governor who was impeached and removed from office in 2009, and Bernard Kerik, the former New York police commissioner sentenced to federal prison on corruption charges. 
He also granted a full pardon to Eddie DeBartolo Jr, former owner of the San Francisco 49ers who was charged in a decades-old corruption case. 
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Blagojevich, 63, has been serving a 14-year sentence for reportedly attempting to sell a seat in the US Senate that opened up following Barack Obamas presidential election, while Mr Kerik pleaded guilty to eight felony counts, including tax fraud, and was sentenced to four years of prison in 2010. 
Mr Trump blasted the tremendously powerful, ridiculous sentence for Blagojevich in a statement to reporters on Tuesday, while acknowledging the former governor was previously a contestant on his reality show The Celebrity Apprentice in 2010.
He served eight years in jail, a long time, Mr Trump said. I dont know him very well. I met him a couple of times. He was on for a short while on the Apprentice some years ago. He seems like a very nice person. I dont know him.
The decision was meanwhile criticised on both sides of the political aisle, with the New York Times reporting members of the GOP warned the president that crimes committed by Mr Blagojevich reflected the exact corruption the president campaigned on rooting out of Washington during the 2016 election. 
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Donald Trump celebrity president: A decade in two halves
1/29
Trump styles his ‘You’re fired!’ pose in his Trump Tower office in June 2012. At the time he was known as a reality TV star on The Apprentice
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He was also well known as the patron of the Miss Universe competition
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Early signs of Trump’s ambition for the presidency can be found everywhere. Not least in his 2011 book ‘Time to get tough: Making America #1 again’
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Trump with Piers Morgan in November 2010. Piers Morgan has long held that he and Trump are good friends
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Trump appeared on Fox & Friends, his favourite show, in August 2011
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Trump considered running in the 2012 election, where he would have faced Barack Obama. He is speaking here at an event for a Republican women’s group
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Trump was subject to a Comedy Central roast in 2011. He is pictured here being roasted by rapper Snoop Dogg
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Given that this Trump store is in the lobby of Trump Tower, it can be said that Trump sells merchandise of himself out of his own home
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Trump held meetings with prominent Republicans when considering his 2012 bid. He is pictured here with Alaska governor Sarah Palin
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He didn’t end up running in 2012 afterall, instead endorsing Republican candidate Mitt Romney
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Trump’s golf course in Aberdeen proved controversial in 2012 when he began lobbying the Scottish government against wind power in order that they wouldn’t install turbines off the shore by his new course
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He even gave evidence to a Scottish parliamentary committee discouraging wind energy
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He still found time for a round of course
14/29
On 16 June 2015, Trump announced that he would run for the presidency of the United States in the 2016 election as a Republican
15/29
His campaign was divisive, courting controversy wherever he went. Ultimately he was declared the Republican candidate in June 2016
16/29
Trump took part in the TV debate against opponent Hillary Clinton on 9 October
17/29
Trump and wife Melania vote in the presidential election on 8 November 2016
18/29
Hillary Clinton conceded defeat at 2:50am on 9 November and president-elect Trump swiftly delivered his victory speech to a crowd of supporters
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News coverage around the world focused on the huge political upset that Trump’s victory spelled
20/29
Trump met with president Obama to discusss transition planning on 10 November. Obama had fiercely denounced Trump during the election campaign, at one point even swearing that he would not leave the White House if Trump won
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Donald Trump and Nigel Farage pose in the golden elevator at Trump Tower on 12 November 2016. Farage was the first British politician to meet with Trump after the election
22/29
The inauguration of Donald Trump took place on 20 January 2017. Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer boasted that the crowd was the ‘largest ever’ to witness an inauguration, a claim that was proved not to be true
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In his first 100 days as leader, Trump signed 24 executve orders, the most of any president
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One of Trump’s most memorable election pledges was to build a wall between the US and Mexico. He is standing here in front of a prototype for a section of the wall
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Trump’s meetings with other world leaders have provided no short supply of photo opportunities
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Trump was welcomed to the UK by the Queen and a state banquet was held at Buckingham Palace in his honour
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Not everyone welcomed the president. Mass protests were held in London throughout his visits in both 2018 and 2019
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One of the most significant meetings Trump has held with another leader was with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. In June 2019, Trump became the first sitting president to set foot in North Korea
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2020 will see president Trump fight for a second term in office, who knows what the next decade will bring?
1/29
Trump styles his ‘You’re fired!’ pose in his Trump Tower office in June 2012. At the time he was known as a reality TV star on The Apprentice
2/29
He was also well known as the patron of the Miss Universe competition
3/29
Early signs of Trump’s ambition for the presidency can be found everywhere. Not least in his 2011 book ‘Time to get tough: Making America #1 again’
4/29
Trump with Piers Morgan in November 2010. Piers Morgan has long held that he and Trump are good friends
5/29
Trump appeared on Fox & Friends, his favourite show, in August 2011
6/29
Trump considered running in the 2012 election, where he would have faced Barack Obama. He is speaking here at an event for a Republican women’s group
7/29
Trump was subject to a Comedy Central roast in 2011. He is pictured here being roasted by rapper Snoop Dogg
8/29
Given that this Trump store is in the lobby of Trump Tower, it can be said that Trump sells merchandise of himself out of his own home
9/29
Trump held meetings with prominent Republicans when considering his 2012 bid. He is pictured here with Alaska governor Sarah Palin
10/29
He didn’t end up running in 2012 afterall, instead endorsing Republican candidate Mitt Romney
11/29
Trump’s golf course in Aberdeen proved controversial in 2012 when he began lobbying the Scottish government against wind power in order that they wouldn’t install turbines off the shore by his new course
12/29
He even gave evidence to a Scottish parliamentary committee discouraging wind energy
13/29
He still found time for a round of course
14/29
On 16 June 2015, Trump announced that he would run for the presidency of the United States in the 2016 election as a Republican
15/29
His campaign was divisive, courting controversy wherever he went. Ultimately he was declared the Republican candidate in June 2016
16/29
Trump took part in the TV debate against opponent Hillary Clinton on 9 October
17/29
Trump and wife Melania vote in the presidential election on 8 November 2016
18/29
Hillary Clinton conceded defeat at 2:50am on 9 November and president-elect Trump swiftly delivered his victory speech to a crowd of supporters
19/29
News coverage around the world focused on the huge political upset that Trump’s victory spelled
20/29
Trump met with president Obama to discusss transition planning on 10 November. Obama had fiercely denounced Trump during the election campaign, at one point even swearing that he would not leave the White House if Trump won
21/29
Donald Trump and Nigel Farage pose in the golden elevator at Trump Tower on 12 November 2016. Farage was the first British politician to meet with Trump after the election
22/29
The inauguration of Donald Trump took place on 20 January 2017. Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer boasted that the crowd was the ‘largest ever’ to witness an inauguration, a claim that was proved not to be true
23/29
In his first 100 days as leader, Trump signed 24 executve orders, the most of any president
24/29
One of Trump’s most memorable election pledges was to build a wall between the US and Mexico. He is standing here in front of a prototype for a section of the wall
25/29
Trump’s meetings with other world leaders have provided no short supply of photo opportunities
26/29
Trump was welcomed to the UK by the Queen and a state banquet was held at Buckingham Palace in his honour
27/29
Not everyone welcomed the president. Mass protests were held in London throughout his visits in both 2018 and 2019
28/29
One of the most significant meetings Trump has held with another leader was with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. In June 2019, Trump became the first sitting president to set foot in North Korea
29/29
2020 will see president Trump fight for a second term in office, who knows what the next decade will bring?
Or, as political columnist and New Hampshire university professor Seth Abramson put it on Twitter: New Trump 2020 campaign slogan is PARDON THE SWAMP.
Steve Cohen, a Tennessee Democrat and chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, noted how the presidents pardons go to rich and very well connected rather than those sentenced unjustly and determined through objective analysis.
The congressman also claimed that Mr Trump used Alice Marie Johnson, a first-time nonviolent drug offender whose lengthy prison sentence was commuted by the president, to please Kim Kardashian. 
Others suggested the pardoning spree was a messaging strategy on the part of the president.
Joyce Alene, a former federal prosecutor and professor at University of Alabama Law, wrote in a tweet that Mr Trump was using the pardons to message others- stay on my side & Ill take care of you. 
We know this from the Mueller Report, she said, before suggesting Mr Trump may soon pardon his former indicted advisers like Michael Flynn, Roger Stone and Paul Manafort. Id speculate Trump wont pardon until after the election but hard to imagine Flynn & Stone arent in line & maybe Manafort too.
Eric Swalwell, a California Democrat, also lambasted the president in a tweet after the pardons were announced, writing: It’s no coincidence Donald Trump uses his power to pardon those accused of the same crimes he and his cronies are accused of.
He added: Dont let him normalise abuse and fraud.