Former New York Police Department Commissioner Bernard Kerik revealed on Feb. 18 how he first learned President Trump was issuing him with a pardon for felony convictions that put him behind bars for three years.
Kerik, who served as the NYPD’s top cop under Mayor Rudy Giuliani during his tenure from 2000 to 2001, told ABC News that he was in Florida on Tuesday when he received an unexpected call around 12 p.m., telling him to “standby for the president.”
“He got on the phone and [said], ‘As I’m talking to you I’m signing a full presidential pardon on your behalf,'” Kerik said President Trump told him, adding, “‘This will expunge your record.'”
The former NYPD commissioner said he had heard rumors that Trump might pardon him but that he had always “blown them off.”
“He thanked me for my service, told me to move on with my life,” Kerik told the outlet, adding that the whole event had left him “pretty emotional, kind of stunned.”
The former police officer said he felt “great” about the pardon and that “a lot of people don’t realize that with a federal conviction, you lose a lot of civil and constitutional rights. This president understands that,” he added.
Kerik, who was police commissioner during the Sept. 11 attacks, said he had “always had enormous respect for Donald Trump,” particularly following the devastating events of 9/11.
“He came down several times to the area and helped motivate the men and women who were working there. He sent people down there to help and donate.”
Army veteran Kerik pleaded guilty in 2009 to eight felonies, including tax fraud and lying to the White House while being vetted for the role of Homeland Security chief in 2004 under President George W. Bush’s administration.
Prosecutors said that between 1999 and 2000, when Kerik was commissioner of the Corrections Department, he accepted more than $255,000 in renovations to his Bronx apartment from city contractors, in exchange for speaking to city officials on their behalf.
He was also charged for providing “false and misleading answers” related to this when questioned by White House officials after President George W. Bush nominated him for the Homeland Security job.
The former police officer said he had previously applied for a pardon with the Obama administration but never heard back. He was released from federal prison in 2013 on good behavior after serving three years.
The White House announced on Feb. 18 that Trump signed an Executive Grant of Clemency granting a full pardon to Kerik, who it said “courageously led the New York Police Department’s heroic response to the horrific attacks of Sept. 11, 2001,” and who “embodied the strength, courage, compassion, and spirit of the people of New York and this great nation.”
According to the statement, Kerik has focused on improving the lives of others, including as a passionate advocate for criminal justice and prisoner reentry reform, since his conviction.
“His 30 years of law enforcement service and tenure as commissioner of the New York City Department of Correction have given him a unique understanding and perspective on criminal justice and prisoner reentry reform, and he remains an invaluable contributor to these endeavors.”
Trump also signed Executive Grants of Clemency granting full pardons to the following individuals on Tuesday: Edward DeBartolo, Jr., Michael Milken, Ariel Friedler, Paul Pogue, David Safavian, and Angela Stanton.
In addition, the president signed Executive Grants of Clemency granting commutations to Rod Blagojevich, Tynice Nichole Hall, Crystal Munoz, and Judith Negron.