Former New York City Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik tells Newsmax he was so overwhelmed when President Donald Trump called him at 11:56 Tuesday morning to advise him that he was signing off on Kerik’s full presidential pardon, he became “extremely emotional” and found “it was really difficult to talk to him.”
“This was important for my family, which has been a fortress personally, professionally, financially over the last many, many years. It’s hard to explain,” Kerik told Newsmax in an exclusive interview just before news of his pardon became public.
In 2009, after a lifelong career in the military and law enforcement, including a stint as interim interior Minister of Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, Kerik pleaded guilty to eight federal charges related to tax fraud and false statements. He was sentenced to four years in federal prison.
After his October 2013 release, Kerik became a leading advocate for criminal justice reform, a key theme in his book “From Jailer to Jailed: My Journey From Prison Builder to Prison Reformer.”
“This is something that is life-changing,” Kerik told Newsmax Tuesday. “For me, this returns your full civil and constitutional rights.
“It basically makes you an American citizen again because until this, there are civil and constitutional rights you’re deprived of for an eternity. I think a lot of people don’t understand that.
“So to be made whole again as an American citizen. For somebody like me who’s fought for, and nearly died for, this country, it means a lot.”
Kerik said he believes the constant attacks, falsehoods, and innuendo that the president has experienced since taking the oath of office have probably influenced his view of the federal justice system.
“The president has gotten to witness first-hand the injustices within the federal criminal justice system,” said Kerik. “I think that’s part of his concern and focus on criminal justice in general.”
Asked what he feels his pardon says about President Trump, Kerik replied, “It talks about his commitment to criminal justice reform, to giving people a second chance at life in the federal system.
He added, “I think this demonstrates the president’s commitment to what he said early on, what he campaigned on and promoted, and what he has actually done with regard to criminal justice reform, the First Step Act, and what he continues to promote as equal and fair justice to all.”
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