Trump pardons junk bond king Michael Milken

Posted February 18, 2020 3:03 p.m. EST

— President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he was granting clemency to Michael Milken, the legendary bond king from the 1980s who served several years in prison for violating securities laws and has since become a prominent philanthropist.

Trump made the announcement to reporters Tuesday, along with the news that he was commuting the sentence of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich and pardoning ex-NYPD commissioner Bernard Kerik.

Milken rose to prominence on Wall Street in the 1980s as the head of the high-yield bond department, also known as junk bonds, at the now defunct firm Drexel Burnham Lambert.

But Milken got tied up in an insider trading scheme and eventually pleaded guilty to several counts of securities violations tied to a scandal with former stock trader Ivan Boesky.

Milken was sentenced to ten years in prison in 1990 and served 22 months. Trump adviser Rudy Giuliani, a former United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, was one of the main prosecutors at that time, going after white collar criminals like Milken.

But since his release from prison, Milken has become a major donor to charities funding research for cancer. Milken himself is a survivor of prostate cancer. He also started up the Milken Institute, a leading nonprofit and non-partisan economic research firm that holds a major conference every spring that many A-listers in the world of finance attend.

In comments to reporters Tuesday, Trump said that Milken has "done an incredible job for the world with all his research on cancer" and that "he's suffered greatly. He paid a big price."

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