In his first television interview since being issued a full pardon on Tuesday by President Donald Trump, former New York City Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik said he was so emotional he could hardly talk.
"I was extremely emotional," Kerik told Newsmax TV host John Bachman on "Newsmax Now." "He said, 'I want you to move on with your life. You've had a great career. You've had a phenomenal career of service. Move on with your life. Live a good life, and keep doing what you're doing.'"
Since Kerik's 2009 guilty plea to eight federal charges related to tax fraud and false statements for which he was sentenced to four years in federal prison, he has led efforts at criminal justice reform, including pushing for the passage and signing of the First Step Act prison reform law.
"Next to my kids being born, this is one of the greatest days of my life," Kerik told Newsmax. "But when you go through this, your civil and constitutional rights, all the rights you basically have as an American citizen, and all that I have fought for my whole career, and nearly died far more times than I can count, you lose many of those civil and constitutional rights eternally — until the day you die. And unless you receive a full pardon from the president of the United States, you never get them back."
Kerik initially filed an application for a pardon under President Barack Obama, thinking his military background and service to the country after 9/11 as interim interior Minister of Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom might have some sway — not to mention his work in criminal justice reform.
"Ironically, it wasn't even entertained," Kerick said.
His message to Roger Stone, who is set to be sentenced Thursday for his November conviction of lying to Congress, tampering with a witness, and obstructing the House investigation in the Russia election tampering probe was: "Keep fighting."
He urged Americans not to take freedom for granted.
"We always hope that the government is doing the right thing, but the government doesn't always do the right thing," he said. "The government's not always wearing the white hat."
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