Photo: Brian Kersey/Getty Images
There are two genres of books about Trump published during his presidency. The first grouping are books written by journalists and former administration officials, and generally serve as indictments of the president’s behavior and/or incompetence. The second grouping has subtitles like How the Deep State Is Undermining the Presidency, How the Trump-Hating Left Lost Its Collective Mind, and The Fight to Save President Trump. Care to guess the camp from which the president pardoned an author?
On Wednesday, the president issued a full pardon to Conrad Black, his billionaire friend and author of the 2018 book Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other. Black, a 74-year-old Canadian-born media mogul, was the CEO of Hollinger Inc., which was once the third-largest English-language newspaper conglomerate, owning the Chicago Sun-Times, the Daily Telegraph, and the Jerusalem Post. In 2007, Black was convicted of fraud and obstruction of justice after diverting millions from the sale of Hollinger newspapers. He eventually spent three-and-a-half years in prison, and was deported from the United States.
In the statement announcing the pardon, the White House referred to Black’s “tremendous contributions to business” and his “exceptional character.”
The statement also referred to Black’s “comprehensive biographies” of FDR and Nixon, but did not mention his short 2018 book, Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other. In it, he writes that the “great majority of anti-Trump activity in the first year of his administration was devoted to falsehoods, which were then justified by the selective and intentional misinterpretation of Trump’s careless and ambiguous statements.” The president, as featured in the unambiguous Access Hollywood tape and the “shithole countries” report, “is not, in fact, a racist, sexist, warmonger, hothead, promoter of violence, or a foreign or domestic economic warrior. No opposition can continue on this name-calling basis alone for much longer than this one has.”
In Black’s own statement, he claimed that his conviction “was never anything but a confluence of unlucky events, the belligerence of several corporate governance charlatans, and grandstanding local and American judges, all fanned by an unusually frenzied international media showing exceptional interest in the case because I was a media owner.” Black considers Trump a friend, and Trump returned the compliment in a 2015 tweet, after Black wrote a National Review op-ed called “Trump is the Good Guy.” “What an honor to read your piece,” Trump tweeted. “As one of the truly great intellects & my friend, I won’t forget!”
So far in his presidency, Trump has used the power of executive clemency less frequently, but more politically than his two predecessors in the Oval Office. Other high-profile Trump pardons include Republican Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Maricopa County’s expert racial profiler convicted of contempt of court; Republican Scooter Libby, Vice-President Cheney’s chief of staff who was convicted of obstruction of justice and perjury; conservative activist Dinesh D’Souza, convicted of a felony for an illegal campaign contribution; and the arsonist ranchers Steven and Dwight Hammond, whose sentencing led to the 40-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.