You get out of jail free: Trump pardons Ripple board member
In what will probably be his last official act, the outgoing US president pardons, among others, an ex-board member of Ripple. Ross Ulbricht, however, is not among those pardoned.
US President Trump has pardoned Ken Kurson, a former member of the Ripple board.
As the White House announced in a press release today, 20 January, Kurson will receive a so-called „full pardon“, i.e. an unconditional pardon.
In addition to Kurson, the now former US president granted immunity from prosecution to 72 other Bitcoin Era individuals shortly before leaving office. For 70 individuals, mostly men, Trump has obtained commutation of sentences. Among those pardoned are a number of Trump friends such as Steve Bannon and rappers Kodak Black and Lil Wayne, who had each been convicted of illegal gun possession.
With Kurson, Trump now pardoned a less prominent member of the crypto community. The FBI is investigating the former journalist on suspicion of cyber-stalking. Kurson allegedly stalked three people and harassed two others in the course of his divorce from his ex-wife. The case only gained notoriety because Trump nominated Kurson in 2018 to be a member of the National Endowment for the Humanities, a fund that supports humanitarian projects. In the course of the FBI’s mandatory background check, the suspicions came to light. In October 2020, the FBI arrested Kurson.
The fact that Kurson was put in the investigators‘ crosshairs in the first place by Trump’s nomination could have been one of the main reasons for the act of mercy. Furthermore, even Kurson’s ex-wife had asked the FBI to drop the investigation. In a letter to the agency, she complained about immense pressure from the investigators and asked for the case to be dropped.
I have hired an attorney to protect me from being forced into further questioning. My disgust at this arrest is bottomless,
the letter states.
Ross Ulbricht not on the list
Trump’s acts of clemency were a final arbitrary act by the 45th President of the United States of America
Yet many a pardon could have done a great service to the rule of law in the country. For example, the crypto community had hoped for the pardon of Ross Ulbricht. The founder of the darknet platform was arrested by FBI investigators in 2013, just two years after the online platform was founded, and sentenced to two life sentences plus 40 years, with no right to appeal.
Trial observers repeatedly criticised the lack of implementation of rule of law principles during the trial. For example, the court had not admitted important witnesses to the distribution. Furthermore, the harsh sentence allows the accusation that an example was to be made of Ulbricht, who himself had never sold weapons or drugs.
Since all legal remedies have been exhausted, Ulbrich no longer has a chance to get out of prison early without a pardon from a US president.