Nessel calls Trump a ‘jackass’ over pardons

President Donald Trump (left) and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (right)

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel on Tuesday had strong words about President Trump’s choice to commute and pardon several high-profile individuals, like former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

She adds that some days trying to survive [President Trump’s] efforts to “destroy our institutions hit me harder than others.”

U.S. Marshals photo of Rod Blagojevich on the day of his arrest via Wikimedia Commons

Trump pardoned a total of seven individuals on Tuesday, including: Angela Ronae Stanton, Ariel Manuel Friedler, David Hossein Safavian, Paul Harvey Pogue and Edward J. DeBartolo Jr.

The list also includes financier Michael Milken, who was the face of 1980s insider trading scandals. He was charged with conspiracy, securities fraud, mail fraud, tax fraud, filing false reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission and assisting a brokerage firm in violating its net capital requirements and was indicted in 1989. 

Trump pardoned Bernard Kerik, who was New York Police Department commissioner and led the department’s response during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He was sentenced to serve four years in prison for tax fraud and for making false statements in 2010. 

Trump also commuted the sentences of four people, which notably included Blagojevich, who had served as Illinois’ Democratic governor from 2003 until he was accused in 2009 of attempting to sell Barack Obama’s vacant U.S. Senate seat after he was elected for president in 2008. Other counts against Blagojevich included wire fraud, conspiracy/attempted extortion, corrupt solicitation of funds, conspiracy to corruptly solicit funds and making false statements.

Other individuals’ sentences that Trump commuted include: Judith Negron, Cyrstal Munoz and Tynice Nichole Hall

But here’s why Nessel is up in arms. Nessel says that she’s spent her career watching dedicated prosecutors bring those who break the law to justice, and that public servants involved in cases connected to the pardons and commutations must feel defeated.

However, she saved her spiciest comment for the end of her post.

I’m just grateful my department prosecutes state criminal violations not subject to the random whims of any jackass in the White House who fancies himself a king,” said Nessel.

Some days, trying to survive 45’s efforts to destroy our institutions hits me harder than others. I’ve spent my career…

Posted by Dana Nessel on Tuesday, February 18, 2020

The Advance reached out to Nessel spokeswoman Kelly Rossman-McKinney to confirm that the comments were about Trump’s pardons and commutations and that the “jackass” comment referred to Trump.

Rossman-McKinney responded: “Yes on both counts … — commutations AND the jackass reference. (Which many would recognize as factually accurate, btw.” )

Madeline Ciak
Madeline Ciak covers the economy, health care and safety net, immigration and politics. She’s a University of Michigan-Flint graduate and previously worked as a digital media manager at NBC25/FOX66 in Flint and a weekend producer at ABC12. When she’s not writing or editing, she can be found reading, whipping something up in the Instant Pot, gardening or treasure hunting at thrift stores.