Feb 18, 2020

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Good afternoon: Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 444 words, a 2-minute read.

1 big thing: Trump pardons the swamp

Clockwise from top left: Mike Milken, Bernie Kerik, Edward DeBartolo Jr., Rod Blagojevich via Getty Images

President Trump unleashed a spree of pardons and commutations today, including a man he once fired on "Celebrity Apprentice" for inadequate knowledge of Harry Potter.

Why it matters: Trump managed to mix men who committed financial or corruption crimes with a handful of women who were the faces of national clemency campaigns, Axios' Margaret Talev notes.

  • Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who appeared on Trump's reality show, was convicted for attempting to profit from Barack Obama's former Senate seat.
  • Financier Mike Milken, who pioneered junk bonds, pleaded guilty to extensive securities law violations.
  • Former NYPD commissioner Bernard Kerik pleaded guilty to tax fraud and other charges.
  • Former San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr. was convicted of gambling fraud.
  • Tynice Nichole Hall was caught up in drug distribution.
  • Crystal Munoz was convicted of smuggling marijuana.
  • Judith Negron was convicted of health care fraud.

Between the lines: "Trump has also raised the prospect of commuting the sentence of Roger J. Stone Jr.," the N.Y. Times reports.

The bottom line: Trump's own party in Illinois has begged him not to pardon Blagojevich, who was in jail for exactly the corruption the president campaigned on ending.

  • “It’s important that we take a strong stand against pay-to-play politics, especially in Illinois where four of our last eight Governors have gone to federal prison for public corruption," five House Republicans from Illinois said in a 2019 statement.
Bonus: Pic du jour

Photo: Melvin Martin/Hardin County Fire Department, Savannah, Tennessee, via AP

This drone photo provided by the Hardin County Fire Department shows flooding in Savannah, Tennessee.

  • Days and days of heavy rain have created a dilemma for authorities managing dams along swollen rivers in Mississippi and Tennessee.
2. What you missed
  1. Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani narrowly won re-election last September, authorities announced today. His challenger accuses the electoral commission of "treason." Go deeper.
  2. Mike Bloomberg, a longtime proponent of stop and frisk, released a criminal justice reform agenda that focuses on reducing racial disparities in incarceration and helping reintegrate those who have been jailed. Go deeper.
  3. Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway has taken a big stake in Biogen, which has an Alzheimer's drug called aducanumab that is in the federal regulatory approval process. Go deeper.
  4. The Trump administration sanctioned a subsidiary of Russian oil giant Rosneft for helping to keep Venezuela's Maduro regime afloat. Go deeper.
  5. Top congressional Republicans are supporting AG William Barr, who has faced condemnation for the Department of Justice intervening in the Roger Stone sentencing. Go deeper.
3. 1 fun thing

Photo: Mint Images/Getty Images

Have your open floor plan and Instagram it too: Entertainers and busy parents are increasingly embracing "second kitchens," which let them keep the messy part of kitchens away from public view, the WSJ reports.

  • "Whether you call them sculleries, butler’s pantries or back kitchens, these utilitarian antechambers are increasingly reimagined not as relics of a privileged past but as problem solvers for modern families."
  • "We see it all the time," said Jean Stoffer, an interior designer in Grand Rapids, Michigan. "Everyone wants to have this pristine life, but that’s not really how we live."
Mike Allen