Trump issues his first commutation
President Donald Trump commuted the sentence of a man eight years into a 27-year term for bank fraud, the White House said Wednesday afternoon.
Trump’s commutation of the sentence of Sholom Rubashkin, 57, marks his first commutation and the second use of his clemency powers since taking office, including his controversial pardon earlier this year of former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
The White House, in its statement announcing the move, claimed bipartisan support for the action.
The case against Rubashkin started after an immigration raid on a kosher meatpacking company that he owned, and his arrest in 2008 by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents resulted in his conviction for financial crimes.
The case drew national attention, and last December a former federal prosecutor and deputy attorney general under President Bill Clinton, Philip Heymann, took to the pages of the The Washington Post to blast Rubashkin’s conviction, which he said was “based on perjured testimony and prosecutorial misconduct.” adding that more than 100 former Justice Department officials, including former attorneys general, also felt the case against Rubashkin was unjust.
In 2012, the Supreme Court declined to hear the case.
Court filings indicate Rubashkin tried to appeal the judgment against him as recently as this year, and a federal appeals court declined to hear the case just last week.
The White House said Trump’s decision would not vacate Rubashkin’s conviction and “leaves in place a term of supervised release and a substantial restitution obligation.”
With its announcement, the White House enclosed letters from several former US attorneys general and Congress members from both sides of the aisle that raised questions about his conviction or asked that he receive clemency.
Trump has yet to make expansive use of his clemency powers, which is in line with his recent predecessors, who granted few, if any, pardons and commutations in the opening periods of their presidencies.