Trump Pardons ex-Ripple Board Member But Skips Snowden, Ulbricht, and Assange
During his last full day in office, US President Donald Trump issued 73 pardons and commuted the sentences of 70 others. Some of the individuals that received pardons include Trump’s former campaign advisor Steve Bannon, ex-Ripple board member Ken Kurson, and rapper Lil Wayne. However, the names of Edward Snowden, Ross Ulbricht, and Julian Assange were not included.
Trump Pardons 73 People
With President Trump scheduled to leave office Wednesday, January 20th, 2021, he spent his last full day in the White House issuing pardons to 73 individuals.
One of the names was Kenneth Kurson. He served as a board member of the payment processor Ripple and was the co-founder of the crypto media outlet – Modern Consensus. However, authorities arrested him last year following allegations of cyberstalking his ex-wife.
The White House pardoning announcement explained that the investigation against Kurson started when he received a nomination for a role in the Trump Administration. Moreover, his ex-wife had sent a “powerful letter” claiming that she never wanted the FBI to investigate him. Kurson has also been “a community leader, certified foster parent, and a successful business owner.”
Stephen Bannon, Trump’s former campaign manager, also received a pardoning. Bannon was arrested on his luxury yacht for allegedly skimming donations from an online fundraising campaign for Trump’s controversial wall with Mexico.
The statement described Bannon as an “important leader in the conservative movement and is known for his political acumen.”
Dwayne Michael Carter Jr, better known for his stage name “Lil Wayne,” receive a full pardon from President Trump as well. He pled guilty to possession of a firearm and ammunition and was convicted over ten years ago.
However, Carter has “exhibited generosity through a commitment to a variety of charities, including donations to research hospitals and a host of a foodbank.” It’s worth noting, though, that Carter endorsed President Trump’s reelection bid last year.
Snowden, Assange, and Ulbricht Skipped
Numerous speculations surrounded Trump’s pardoning initiative that included the names of Edward Snowden, Ross Ulbricht, and Julian Assange. However, the President ultimately refused to do so, despite many believing that they deserved to be pardoned.
Snowden is arguably the most well-known whistleblower of this generation as he copied and leaked highly classified information for the US National Security Agency (NSA) in 2013. The documents revealed that several US agencies have spied on their citizens for years and other controversial discoveries.
Snowden was charged with violating the US Espionage Act. Trump has displayed a somewhat controversial history with Snowden – he called him a traitor years ago and called for his execution. Last year, though, Trump said that he could be treated differently and pledge to take a “very good look” at his potential pardoning.
Interestingly, Snowden admitted that he paid the serves that he used to transfer the stolen documents with bitcoin. He has also praised numerous cryptocurrency projects and revealed during the liquidity crisis in mid-March 2020 that he purchased more BTC.
Previous reports informed that the creator of the infamous darknet website Silk Road, Ross Ulbricht, could also be pardoned by the Potus. Although Trump reportedly “expressed sympathy” for Ulbricht and his life sentence, he has ultimately decided not to grant him a full pardon.
By using the combined anonymity of the Tor network and cryptocurrencies, the Silk Road website enabled users to hide their identities while purchasing illegal goods. Many believe that Ulbricht’s sentence is too extreme for a first-time offender, and almost 400,000 people have signed the online petition, which serves as the forefront of the “free Ross” campaign.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, accused of conspiring with former US Army intelligence analysts to breach the US Espionage Act, also didn’t receive a presidential pardon.
His lawyers claimed that Assange faces charges because the website he founded had exposed evidence of war crimes committed by the US Army.
WikiLeaks was among the first BTC adopters as it began processing transactions with the cryptocurrency about a decade ago.
Nevertheless, Assange will remain in the UK as earlier this year District Judge Baraiser said that he shouldn’t be extradited to the US because of his mental condition.