mar-a-lago raid

Convicted Felons Are Leaping to Trump’s Defense

Photo-Illustration: Intelligencer; Photos: Getty Images/Shutterstock

In the wake of the FBI’s Monday raid on Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump has added some muscle to his constituency of supporters: felons. As Republican Party leaders jumped to the former president’s defense with a Cosa Nostra–like zeal, a line-up of actual criminals expressed outrage that the same authorities that nailed them would go after him. (Perhaps not coincidentally, several of them were granted mercy by Trump before he left the White House.) Here’s the running list so far.

Paul Manafort

The former Trump campaign manager and lobbyist to war criminals Paul Manafort was indicted by Robert Mueller’s team in October 2017 on financial charges related to his work consulting for Ukraine’s ousted prime minister years earlier. He was ultimately convicted of five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud, and one count of failing to disclose a foreign bank account; he also pleaded guilty to witness tampering and two charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States. Manafort, whose house was also subject to a federal raid, was eventually sentenced to seven and a half years in prison but served a fraction of that before Trump pardoned him on his way out of office.

Rod Blagojevich

In 2011, former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in prison after being charged with an impressive 18 counts of corruption — including a plot to sell off the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama when he was elected president. The lone Democrat on the list, he wanted to make this a bipartisan affair, noting that the raid marked a “tragic day for ALL Americans.” His sentence was commuted by Trump in February 2020.

Michael Grimm

Less than two months after he won reelection to his congressional seat representing Staten Island and southern Brooklyn, Republican representative Michael Grimm pleaded guilty to a count of felony tax evasion for cooking the books at his salad-and-wrap spot Healthalicious on the Upper East Side. The only person on the list who didn’t receive a commutation or a pardon, Grimm ultimately served seven months in prison.

Dinesh D’Souza

In 2014, conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza was charged with illegally using straw donors to give $20,000 to the campaign of a friend from college running for Senate in New York. While D’Souza claimed the investigation was related to his political leanings, he eventually pleaded guilty to arranging straw donors to make an illegal campaign contribution and was sentenced to five years probation, including eight months in a halfway house. Following the Mar-a-Lago raid, D’Souza pondered the “real” reasons for the move and posted a story stating that the judge who approved the raid once represented Jeffrey Epstein’s pilot and scheduler when he was a private-practice lawyer. D’Souza, who was pardoned by Trump in 2018, did not mention the former president’s own connections to the convicted sex criminal.

Convicted Felons Are Leaping to Trump’s Defense