Republicans who defended President Donald Trump during impeachment hearings insisted that he wasn't trying to shake down the Ukrainian government to investigate his political foes, but was instead sincerely concerned about fighting corruption abroad.
CNN's John Avlon, however, argued on Wednesday that Trump showed these claims were "complete nonsense" after he unleashed a slew of pardons and commutations for corrupt former public officials, including former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and NYPD Commissioner Bernard Kerik, who both were sent to prison after being found guilty of abusing their offices for personal gain.
"The president just used his pardon power to commute the sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was convicted of trying to sell Barack Obama's senate seat!" Avlon exclaimed. "He was charged with a variety of corruption charges, including holding $8 million in funds to a state children's hospital in hopes of getting a $50,000 campaign contribution!"
In addition to Blagojevich and Kerik, Trump also saw fit to pardon David Safavian, a former General Services Administration chief of staff under President George W. Bush who was convicted of obstructing justice during the criminal investigation into disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
"So to recap: The crimes that Trump pardoned include corruption, obstruction of justice, perjury, tax fraud, wire fraud, and bribery," Avlon said. "These are many of the same offenses that Trump associates are accused of committing."
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