Iowa federal judge apologizes for comments about Trump pardons

An Iowa federal judge is apologizing for comments criticizing then-President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump Org, CFO indicted by New York grand jury: reports Black Caucus presses Democratic leaders to expedite action on voting rights Judge blocks Florida social media law MORE for multiple pardons that he issued in his last days in office.

U.S. District Judge Robert Pratt came under fire in December after telling The Associated Press in an interview that “it’s not surprising that criminals like Trump pardon other criminals.”

“Apparently to get a pardon, one has to be either a Republican, a convicted child murderer or a turkey,” Pratt said at the time.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa posted a letter from Pratt on Monday addressing the comments. In the letter dated April 16, the judge said he accepts that his comments constituted “cognizable misconduct,” adding they could be construed as “inappropriate partisan statements.”

“I acknowledge the wrongfulness of the comments, and I regret the embarrassment they have caused to my court and the judiciary in general,” Pratt wrote. “I am truly sorry for the remarks and apologize for having made them.”

He made the original comments when he was asked specifically about Trump pardoning John Tate and Jesse Benton. The men were aides to ex-Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and were convicted for hiding $73,000 worth of payments to state Sen. Kent Sorenson to endorse Paul.

Pratt oversaw the case in 2017, and sentenced Sorenson to 15 months in prison in 2017.

Tate and Benton both avoided jail time, and were sentenced to six months home confinement and two years on probation.

According to the AP, Pratt's original comments led to a judicial misconduct complaint against Pratt by Lavenski Smith, who is the chief judge of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Also in December, Trump pardoned multiple figures who were charged in former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election and security contractors who were convicted of killing unarmed Iraqi civilians.

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