Trump Pardons Bank Robber During RNC

Jon Ponder launched nonprofit after his release
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 26, 2020 12:34 AM CDT
Trump Pardons Bank Robber During RNC
In this image from video, Jon Ponder speaks during the second night of the Republican National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020.   (Courtesy of the Committee on Arrangements for the 2020 Republican National Committee via AP)

A President Trump pardon took center stage Tuesday at night two of the Republican National Convention: Trump pardoned Jon Ponder, with the White House making the announcement shortly before the RNC kicked off for the evening; Ponder appeared during the night's events alongside the former FBI agent who arrested him and learned of the pardon in a video shown on the broadcast. Trump has often lauded Ponder in recent years; after pleading guilty to bank robbery in 2005 and being imprisoned until 2009, he started the Hope for Prisoners nonprofit to offer job training, mentorship, and counseling to those leaving incarceration. Trump has praised Ponder's Christian faith and the friendship he developed with the aforementioned FBI agent, and has hinted in the past that a pardon was coming.

"We believe that each person is made by God for a purpose," Trump said in the video announcing the pardon. "I will continue to give all Americans, including former inmates, the best chance to build a new life and achieve their own American dream, and a great American dream it is." The New York Times sees the move, and particularly its timing, as "an attempt by the president to draw voters’ attention to criminal justice, a subject that he has promoted as a signature initiative of his time in office." Fox News' Brit Hume called the pardon the night's most "striking" and "powerful" moment, noting, "These faith-based programs that turn lives around really do work and Jon Ponder is an example of that." (More President Trump stories.)

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