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Meet Conrad Black — the convicted felon pardoned by Trump

  • Conrad Black's full pardon came a year after publishing his glowing biography, "Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other." 
  • The onetime media baron was convicted of fraud and obstructing justice in a scheme blamed for taking down what was one of the world's biggest newspaper companies.
  • Until being bought out, Black partnered with Mr. Trump in building Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago.

The name Conrad Black may not ring a bell for some Americans, but the onetime media baron, society figure and now a recipient of a presidential pardon was in the public spotlight for years. Deported to Canada in 2012 after spending more than three years in prison, Black had been found guilty of fraud and obstruction of justice. His long and colorful history includes a long-standing alliance with President Trump.

Born in Canada, Black eventually became a British lord and is described in press accounts as a millionaire who lived like a billionaire. When criticized for allegedly using shareholder money to finance a vacation to Bora Bora and charging an extravagant birthday party for his wife to his company, he reportedly declared that he would "not re-enact the French Revolutionary renunciation of the rights of the nobility." He was acquitted of charges related to both incidents.

"A President Like No Other"

In his 20s, Black and longtime business partner David Radler turned an investment in an English-language daily in Quebec into a company that ran more than 300 newspapers. He became a convicted felon decades later when he and other executives were accused of looting about $32 million from Hollinger International, which owned entities including the Chicago Sun-Times, Canada's National Post, the U.K.'s Daily Telegraph and the Jerusalem Post. Radler pleaded guilty in the scheme blamed for taking down what at the time was among the biggest newspaper companies in the world.

When Black was at the helm, the Sun-Times in the early 2000s sold its building alongside the Chicago River to Mr. Trump, leading to the present-day Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago. The two were partners in the undertaking until Mr. Trump bought out Black.

The full pardon came a day after the National Review published an essay by Black headlined: "Smooth Sailing Ahead for Trump," and a year after the publication of Black's book, "Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other." The 74-year-old Black has authored other presidential biographies, including "Richard M. Nixon: A Life in Full," in 2007.

"Mr. Black is entirely deserving" of the pardon, the White House said in a statement. It touted him as having made "tremendous contributions to business, as well as to political and historical thought."

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