By TuAnh Dam and Caroline Chen
President Donald Trump issued a slew of pardons on Tuesday, including one to Bernard Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner. Kerik, who led the NYPD from 2000 to 2001 pled guilty to eight federal charges–including tax fraud– in 2009.
Kerik was sentenced to four years in prison in 2010 and served three years before he was released from federal custody in 2013. He thanked Trump on Twitter Tuesday afternoon, expressing his appreciation and how eternally grateful he was that his civil and constitutional rights were restored.
“With the exception of the birth of my children, today is one of the greatest days of my life,” Kerik said in a Twitter statement. “Going to prison is like dying with your eyes open.”
The former police commissioner also has ties to Trump’s ally and personal lawyer – Rudy Giuliani. The former New York mayor appointed Kerik as commissioner of the New York City Department of Correction in 1998 before promoting him to police commissioner in 2000.
In 2019, Kerik helped Giuliani shape the defense case of Navy SEAL chief Edward Gallagher who had been accused of war crimes in Iraq. According to CNN, Tim Parlatore, the lead defense attorney, confirmed that the commissioner recommended him to the case. Marc Mukasey, a lawyer who works for the Trump Organization, is also part of Gallagher’s team.
Kerik also has ties to Lawrence Ray, who was charged last week with sex trafficking, extortion, and forced labor after moving into his daughter’s dorm room at Sarah Lawrence. According to NBC reporters, Ray, who had been Kerik’s best man, provided information to law enforcement when Kerik was charged with corruption.
“Larry Ray is a psychotic con man who has victimized every friend he’s ever had,” Kerik said in a New York magazine article last April.
In 2004, then-President George W. Bush nominated Kerik to lead the Department of Homeland security, but the former commissioner withdrew his nomination after he announced that he employed an illegal nanny.
At Joint Base Andrews, where he made the announcement, Donald Trump said that he “relies heavily on the recommendations of others to inform his clemency decisions” and that Kerik is a “a man who had many recommendations from a lot of very good people.”
According to a White House statement, the pardon was supported by Geraldo Rivera, Representative Peter King (R-N.Y.), Michael Flynn’s attorney Sidney Powell, and Giuliani.
Trump also issued pardons Tuesday for junk bond king Michael Milken, former governor of Illinois Rod Blagojevich, and owner of the San Francisco 49ers, Eddie DeBartolo Jr.