On Wednesday, the same day his administration celebrated the passage of his tax plan, President Donald J. Trump commuted the prison sentence of Sholom Rubashkin, an action encouraged by bipartisan leaders from across the political spectrum, many of whom charged he was serving an excessive sentence in light of others convicted for identical or similar crimes.
“The injustice of Mr. Rubashkin’s grossly excessive 27-year sentence was readily apparent to any fair-minded individual who reviewed the facts of the case,” read a statement from Agudath Israel of America. “That is why so many Congressmembers, from both sides of the political aisle, led by Senator Orrin Hatch and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and well over 100 former high ranking Justice Department officials and other legal luminaries, have been publicly calling for executive clemency.”
According to a White House news release, Mr. Rubashkin is a 57-year-old father of 10 children. He ran the Iowa headquarters of a family business that was the country’s largest kosher meat-processing company. In 2009, he was convicted of bank fraud and sentenced thereafter to 27 years in prison. Mr. Rubashkin has now served more than 8 years of that sentence, which many have called excessive in light of its disparity with sentences imposed for similar crimes.
The release stated that the action is not a presidential pardon. It does not vacate Mr. Rubashkin’s conviction, and it leaves in place a term of supervised release and a substantial restitution obligation, which were also part of Mr. Rubashkin’s sentence. Reportedly, the President’s review of Mr. Rubashkin’s case and commutation decision were based on expressions of support from members of Congress and a broad cross-section of the legal community.
A bipartisan group of more than 100 former high-ranking and distinguished Department of Justice (DOJ) officials, prosecutors, judges, and legal scholars have expressed concerns about the evidentiary proceedings in Mr. Rubashkin’s case and the severity of his sentence. Additionally, more than 30 current Members of Congress have written letters expressing support for review of Mr. Rubashkin’s case.
This story is still developing.