President Donald Trump pardoned former Wall Street financier Michael Milken on Tuesday, despite his having served time in prison after pleading guilty to securities and reporting violations in 1989.
Milken was described as the “junk bond king” of 1980s Wall Street and faced ten years in prison, although he cooperated with authorities to prosecute insider trading crimes, reducing his sentence to two years.
“In 1989, at the height of his finance career, Mr. Milken was charged in an indictment alleging that some of his innovative financing mechanisms were in fact criminal schemes,” the White House said in a statement defending the pardon.
Milken has since focused on funding cancer cures and other medical research.
“Since his release, Mr. Milken has dedicated his life to philanthropy, continuing charitable work that he began before his indictment,” the statement from the White House read.
The White House cited Sheldon Adelson, Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, former New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Representative Kevin McCarthy, Fox News Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch, and many other well-connected individuals supportive of Milken’s pardon. Milken is also a friend of Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
“Mr. Milken’s philanthropy has been particularly influential in the fight against prostate cancer and has been credited with saving many lives,” the White House statement added.
Milken thanked Trump for the pardon in a statement.
“Lori and I, who recently celebrated our 51st wedding anniversary, along with our children and grandchildren, are very grateful to the President,” Milken said. “We look forward to many more years of pursuing our efforts in medical research, education, and public health.”