Trump declares himself 'chief law enforcement officer' as he issues numerous pardons

President Trump on Tuesday exercised his pardon power, granting clemency to or commuting the sentences of nearly a dozen people convicted of crimes, including former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and junk bond pioneer Michael Milken.

Trump also referred to himself as the nation's "chief law enforcement officer," a title typically reserved for the attorney general.

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US President Donald Trump, center with red tie, waves as he arrives in Davos, Switzerland on Marine One, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. President Trump arrived in Switzerland on Tuesday to start a two-day visit to the World Economic Forum. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
US President Donald Trump, center, arrives in Davos, Switzerland on Marine One, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. President Trump arrived in Switzerland on Tuesday to start a two-day visit to the World Economic Forum. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. The 50th annual meeting of the forum will take place in Davos from Jan. 21 until Jan. 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
President Donald Trump delivers the opening remarks at the World Economic Forum, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020, in Davos, Switzerland. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump listens as he is introduced by World Economic Forum founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab to deliver the opening remarks at the World Economic Forum, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020, in Davos, Switzerland. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump talks with reporters following his speech at the World Economic Forum, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020, in Davos, Switzerland. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
U.S. President Donald Trump reacts after addressing the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. The 50th annual meeting of the forum will take place in Davos from Jan. 21 until Jan. 24, 2020. Left is Ivanka Trump. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
People take images as U.S. President Donald Trump, right, and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab, left, walk up the stairs at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. The 50th annual meeting of the forum will take place in Davos from Jan. 21 until Jan. 24, 2020.. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
President Donald Trump delivers the opening remarks at the World Economic Forum, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020, in Davos, Switzerland. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump shakes hands with World Economic Forum founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab after delivering the opening remarks at the World Economic Forum, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020, in Davos. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. The 50th annual meeting of the forum will take place in Davos from Jan. 21 until Jan. 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
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On Tuesday morning, the White House announced Trump’s pardoning of former San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr. for his involvement in the 1998 corruption case against former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards. Ohio Pastor Darrell Scott, a longtime Trump supporter of the president, told the Associated Press that he submitted “a package” to the president advocating for DeBartolo’s pardon.

Speaking on the tarmac at Joint Base Andrews before boarding Air Force One en route to a fundraiser in Beverly Hills, Trump announced that he had commuted Blagojevich's sentence. The former governor is serving a 14-year sentence on federal corruption charges.

“He seems like a very nice person,” Trump told reporters. “I watched his wife on television.”

Patricia Blagojevich had appeared on numerous Fox News shows to appeal for her husband, who was once featured as a guest contestant on Trump’s reality show “The Apprentice.”

Blagojevich, a Democrat, was convicted for abusing his powers as governor by seeking campaign contributions in exchange for filling the Illinois Senate seat left open when Barack Obama became president.

For months, Trump had been considering a pardon for the former Illinois governor, whom the president said was treated “very, very unfairly.”

The president also told reporters that he had granted clemency to former NYPD commissioner Bernie Kerik for corruption and financier Michael Milken for regulatory crimes.

Kerik, who served more than three years in federal prison for tax fraud and for making false statements, appeared on Fox News Monday night. Kerik was New York's top cop under then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is now one of the president's attorneys.

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President Donald Trump points to the crowd after speaking during a campaign rally at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump applauds after speaking during a campaign rally at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
President Donald Trump arrives for a campaign rally Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
Supports cheer President Donald Trump during a campaign rally Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
Supports cheer before a campaign rally for President Donald Trump Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
President Donald Trump points to the crowd after speaking during a campaign rally at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump arrives at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena to speak at a campaign rally, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
Supporters of President Donald Trump cheer as he arrives for a campaign rally at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
Supporters of President Donald Trump cheer as he arrives for a campaign rally at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN, USA - JANUARY 14 : U.S. President Donald Trump makes a speech at Keep America Great Rally in Milwaukee, WI, United States on January 14, 2020. (Photo by Kyle Mazza/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN, USA - JANUARY 14 : U.S. President Donald Trump arrives to delivering a speech at Keep America Great Rally in Milwaukee, WI, United States on January 14, 2020. (Photo by Kyle Mazza/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN, USA - JANUARY 14 : U.S. President Donald Trump arrives to delivering a speech at Keep America Great Rally in Milwaukee, WI, United States on January 14, 2020. (Photo by Kyle Mazza/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI - JANUARY 14: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence gives the thumbs up as he speaks at a rally held by U.S President Donald Trump on January 14, 2020 at UWMilwaukee Panther Arena in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Trump, who is the third president to face impeached, now faces an impending trial in the Senate. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI - JANUARY 14: Attendees cheer as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a rally on January 14, 2020 at UWMilwaukee Panther Arena in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Trump, who is the third president to face impeached, now faces an impending trial in the Senate. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
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After boarded Air Force One, the White House announced full pardons for four others — Ariel Friedler, Paul Pogue, David Safavian and Angela Stanton — and the granting of commutations to three more: Tynice Nichole Hall, Crystal Munoz and Judith Negron. Munoz and Hall were both convicted of drug-related crimes, while Negron went to prison for Medicare fraud.

In its statement, the White House noted that Sheldon Adelson and Tom Barrack, longtime backers of Trump’s campaign, were among those who advocated for clemency for Milken.

The granting of pardons and commutations comes two days before Trump’s longtime ally, Roger Stone, is due to be sentenced for lying to the Congress, obstruction and witness tampering in a case stemming from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

On Twitter earlier Tuesday, Trump called for all cases stemming the Mueller probe to be “thrown out.”

Trump was asked by reporters about the public rebuke from Attorney General William Barr, who said in an interview last week that such tweets make his job “impossible.” The president said he agreed.

“I do make his job harder,” Trump said. “I do agree with that, I do. He’s working against a lot of people who don’t want to see good things happen in my opinion.”

The president reiterated his claim that he has the right to intervene in the Stone case.

“I’m actually, I guess, the chief law enforcement officer of the country,” Trump said. “I could be involved if I wanted to.” 

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