• Trump issued pardons and clemency for 11 people Tuesday
  • Included was Paul Pogue, whose family donated nearly $200,000 to Trump
  • Trump's pardons also included ex Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump granted pardons and clemency to 11 people, including one person whose family has donated more than $200,000 to Trump’s reelection since August.

Construction company owner Paul Pogue had been serving three years of probation after he pleaded guilty to not paying almost $500,000 in taxes.

According to The Daily Beast, in August both Ben Pogue, who now serves as CEO of Pogue Construction, and his wife, Ashleigh Pogue, collectively donated $135,000 to the Trump Victory PAC. In September, Ben Pogue donated another $75,000 to the group; both also donated $5,600 each to Trump’s personal reelection campaign.

The couple had previously donated small sums to Republican candidates in the past.

Now questions are being raised about the reasoning behind Trump’s decision to pardon Pogue, as well as his other recent pardons.

Undoubtedly the highest profile individual to receive a pardon on Tuesday was former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Blagojevich had been serving a 14-year sentence over his attempts to sell access to the Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama in 2008.

Trump had reportedly been exploring a pardon for the former governor since mid-2018, according to The Daily Beast. In Blagojevich’s case, as well as others, Trump appears to have been motivated at least in part by the lobbying done by Fox News pundits. Jeanine Pirro, in particular, pushed aggressively for Blagojevich’s release on her program; his wife, Patti Blagojevich, had also been making frequent appearances on Fox News to make her case for her husband being pardoned.

Before this week, Trump had issued 18 pardons since entering the White House. Late last year, the president courted controversy after granting pardons to members of the military who had faced charges of committing war crimes. Ultimately, the pardons were issued despite various military leaders’ objections to the idea; this would later lead to Navy Secretary Richard Spencer resigning in protest.

America's divisions will be on display at President Donald Trump's State of the Union speech
America's divisions will be on display at President Donald Trump's State of the Union speech AFP / Nicholas Kamm