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Breaking: The Real Scandal Is the Pardon Trump Didn’t Give

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Rufus Rochell checked all the right boxes for clemency: an exemplary record in prison, advocacy out of it, and a friendship with a famous Trump booster. So why didn’t he get it?

As the clock ticked down on the last night of Donald Trump’s presidency, Rufus Rochell anxiously checked Facebook from inside his sister’s home.

He had lived there since being released from prison in April having been deemed a non-threat and with fears mounting that he could contract Covid-19. For weeks, he was convinced that the outgoing president would give him a pardon or, at least, clemency. His case had gained national attention, not just because of the advocacy he’d done around the dangerous conditions of Covid-infested prisons, but because, frankly, he had a key friend in a high place.

At the Coleman low security prison in Florida — where he had been for 32 years — Rufus took a liking to Conrad Black, the famed financier who went to jail for several years for flagrant misuse of company funds, mail fraud and obstruction. And Black, in turn, took a liking to him. The two worked together in the education department. They talked about history. They managed to find subtle humor in the humbling elements of prison life.

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