President Trump issued a pardon for Jon Ponder, who was arrested for robbing a bank and has since founded a reintegration program for former prisoners, ahead of the Republican National Convention’s primetime speeches on Tuesday. Ponder is slated to speak this evening.
In a White House video announcing the pardon, Trump called Ponder’s life story a “beautiful testament to the power of redemption.”
“We believe that each person is made by god for a purpose,” the President added. “I will continue to give all Americans, including former inmates, the best chance to build a new life and achieve their own American dream.”
Ponder joined Trump inside the White House alongside former FBI agent Richard Beasley, who arrested him in 2004 and is now a good friend.
“My hope for America is that formerly incarcerated people will be afforded the opportunity to take advantage of the fact that we live in a nation of second chanced,” Ponder said in the video. “My hope for America is that law enforcement and people in the communities across our country can come together and realize that as Americans, we have more in common than we have differences.”
In February, Trump attended a graduation ceremony in Las Vegas for former prisoners who participated in Ponder’s nonprofit program. At the ceremony, the President said he was asked to give Ponder a pardon.
“Ware giving him absolute consideration, and I have a feeling he’s going to get that full pardon. I have a feeling. I can’t tell you, but I have a feeling,” Trump said at the time.
Trump has granted clemency to more than two dozen individuals since taking office. Sometimes, the President has used the executive power after being swayed by celebrities, friends or insiders advocating for him to make the move. And frequently, he’s used the pardon power to make a political statement or to help out old friends.
Among the list are individuals granted clemency by Trump is Alice Johnson, who faced a life sentence on charges related to possession of cocaine. After Kim Kardashian West advocated on Johnson’s behalf, Trump commuted her sentence in 2018. Johnson is also scheduled to speak at the convention on Thursday.
The list includes several orders absolving old friends and conservative politicians from their crimes, including clemency for Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, conservative author Dinesh D’Souza and former New York City Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik.
And more recently, Trump commuted Roger Stone’s prison sentence, after Stone, a longtime friend and former Trump adviser was convicted of crimes that included lying to Congress in part, prosecutors said, to protect the President.
Trump’s most recent act of clemency was a posthumous pardon for Susan B. Anthony on the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. Some experts have said Anthony likely wouldn’t have wanted a pardon.