Conrad Black Thought Presidential Pardon Was A Prank At First

David Krayden | Ottawa Bureau Chief

Former international media baron Lord Conrad Black wasn’t sure whether the phone call he received from President Donald Trump regarding a presidential pardon was a prank or not.

He soon discovered it was anything but a joke; Trump was issuing Black an official pardon.

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 16: U.S. President Donald Trump waits for the arrival of President Ueli Maurer of the Swiss Confederation, at the West Wing of the White House on May 16, 2019 in Washington, DC. The two leaders are expected to discuss their countries partnership and other international issues. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

U.S. President Donald Trump waits for the arrival of President Ueli Maurer of the Swiss Confederation, at the West Wing of the White House on May 16, 2019 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

“The two counts for which I have just received a presidential pardon, and of which I was ‘convicted’ in 2011, after the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously vacated them only to have a self-serving appellate judge reinstate them, were for wire fraud and obstruction of justice,” Black wrote Friday in the daily Canadian newspaper that he founded, the National Post.

“It was nonsense, all of it; there was never a word of truth to any of it. And now it is over, after 16 years, including three years and two weeks in U.S. federal prisons,” Black recounted. (RELATED: Conrad Black: ‘Mueller Investigation Has Been Incompetent, Partisan)

Black wrote that he had not spoken to Trump since his inauguration and he was at first suspicious about who was calling:

When my assistant said there was a call from the White House, I picked up, said, “Hello,” and started to ask if this was a prank (suspecting my friends in the British tabloid media), but the caller spoke politely over me: “Please hold for the president.” Two seconds later probably the best-known voice in the world said, “Is that the great Lord Black?” I said, “Mr. President, you do me great honour telephoning me.”

Trump apparently got down to business right away, announcing he was granting a pardon that would “expunge the bad rap you got.” Black relates that Trump had followed his trial closely and made himself available as a witness in his defense.

In their conversation, Trump acknowledged that there would be debate over the merits of this presidential pardon but said Black “can handle that better than anyone.”

Black said he asked Trump, “Do you authorize me to say that your motivation is that it was an unjust verdict?”

“[Trump] checked with the White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, who was in the room, if authorizing such a comment would be a problem legally and was told and affirmed to me that I could say that was his motive and that he was reversing an unjust verdict,” Black wrote in his op-ed published by The Guardian.

The conservative pundit and author wrote “Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other,” a 2018 book that some considered to be bordering on the hagiographic but that others saw as a precise, nuanced and determined portrait of an American president from a Canadian-born observer. (RELATED: Conrad Black Says ‘America Is Reversing Its Decline Under Trump)

FILE PHOTO: Former media mogul Conrad Black arrives at a business luncheon in Toronto, Canada June 22, 2012. REUTERS/Mark Blinch/File Photo

FILE PHOTO: Former media mogul Conrad Black arrives at a business luncheon in Toronto, Canada June 22, 2012. REUTERS/Mark Blinch/File Photo

“We’ve known each other a long time,” the president told me, “but that wasn’t any part of the reason. Nor has any of the supportive things you’ve said and written about me.”

Black joked that Trump knew ”better than anyone the antics of some U.S. prosecutors”

From there the conversation “moved briefly on to generalities, greetings to wives, I thanked him for his call and again for the purpose of his call, and the conversation ended.”

“Lord Black’s case has attracted broad support from many high-profile individuals, who have vigorously vouched for his exceptional character,” reads the White House statement. “This impressive list includes former Secretary of State Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Sir Elton John, Rush Limbaugh, the late William F. Buckley, Jr., and many additional notable individuals.”

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