On his way out the White House door, Donald Trump pardoned ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, according to the White House.
Trump — who like Kilpatrick left office in disgrace, impeached twice during his four-year term — included Kilpatrick on his pardon list, setting him free 20 years early from prison when no one else would give him that chance.
U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said just before midnight: “I haven’t heard that. I’ll look into it.”
Just before 1 a.m. Wednesday, the White House issued a statement saying that Trump had pardoned 73 individuals. Kilpatrick was on the list.
Kilpatrick, who resigned from office in 2008 following a text message scandal disclosed by the Free Press, has been serving a 28-year federal prison sentence following his 2013 conviction on multiple corruption crimes, including racketeering, bribery, extortion and fraud. All of his appeals failed over the years, though both Kilpatrick and a group of his supporters had appealed to Trump last year, seeking clemency.
There were several false alarms from Kilpatrick’s supporters over the last year as rumors got out that he was going to be freed early and allowed to live with his mother in home confinement in Georgia, though that never happened. Then word got out that he would be freed due to COVID-19 concerns, though that never happened.
Last spring, Sabrina Taylor, a spokeswoman for the Ebony Foundation, which first announced Kilpatrick’s imminent release, said a case manager in April had recommended that Kilpatrick be released due to COVID-19, but that someone intervened and reversed that plan.
While prison officials shot down Kilpatrick, the persistent prisoner held on, clinging to one final hope: that Trump would set him free.
Early last year, State Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, D-Detroit, had hand-delivered a letter on Kilpatrick’s behalf to Trump during a White House event.
The Free Press spent years investigating Kilpatrick and won the Pulitzer Prize in 2008 for exposing many of his wrongdoings in office, including publishing text messages that showed he lied about an affair with an aide and covered up the firing of a deputy police chief during a police whistleblower trial.