Trump pardons Lord Black after Elton John letter

Conrad Black has been granted a full pardon by U.S. President Donald Trump

On Wednesday, the president issued a full pardon to Conrad Black, his billionaire friend and author of the 2018 book Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other.

Following his original conviction in 2007 for embezzling funds from Hollinger International, the investment firm he ran, and obstructing justice, Black spent three and a half years in a Florida prison. He served more than three years in prison and was ultimately deported to his native Canada after his release in 2012. The statement also noted that Black is "the author of several notable biographies", but didn't mention the glowing book Black published about Trump a year ago.

The Washington Post reported that the White House said in a statement that Black was "entirely deserving" of the pardon.

In 2013, the US Securities and Exchange Commission banned him from acting as a director of a US company and ordered him to pay $4.1 million in restitution.

Other pardons have included Lewis "Scooter" Libby, former Vice-President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, who was convicted of lying about leaks to the media, and Jack Johnson, boxing's first black heavyweight champ, convicted in 1913 of taking his white girlfriend across state lines.

"Lord Black's case has attracted broad support from many high-profile individuals who have vigorously vouched for his exceptional character", the White House statement read.

Lord Black, born in Montreal, Canada, was the former head of Hollinger International, which once owned the Daily Telegraph, Chicago Sun-Times, Jerusalem Post and hundreds of community papers in the USA and Canada.

"The idea that I would commit a crime is a nonsense", Mr Black told the BBC.

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Trump has used his power of pardon before this and critics say he does it for people who back him or his ideas.

Black, 74, has written biographies of several American presidents, as well as a history of Canada.

"He could not have been more gracious and quickly got to his point: he was granting me a full pardon that would "expunge the bad rap you got"."

Mr Black, who has called Mr Trump a friend, published a book previous year praising him, titled "Donald J Trump: A President Like No Other". "In fact, it was because of this work that the president learned of Mr. Nolan's case".

"'We've known each other a long time, ' the president told me, 'but that wasn't any part of the reason".

Trump, who was by then already a celebrity of sorts, attended the meeting even though he did not own any Hollinger shares, Black's trial heard from the company's former head of investor relations Paul Healy.

Black said he does not have a direct line to the USA president.

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