On December 23, 2020 President Donald Trump issued a full and unconditional pardon to his longtime political confidante and renowned political strategist Roger Stone, erasing the conviction obtained against Stone in November 2019 in federal district court in Washington D.C. by prosecutors for Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
In a statement issued after his pardon, Stone called attention to another case of injustice warranting presidential clemency. Stone urged the President to pardon Abraham W. Bolden. An 84-year-old Chicago resident, Bolden was America’s first black Secret Service agent, also the first to serve black man to serve on a presidential protection detail.
In 1961 President Kennedy hand-selected Bolden to serve on his presidential protection detail. In fall 1963 Bolden became privy to an apparent assassination plot against President Kennedy in Chicago that had striking similarities to the scenario that played out in Dallas weeks later. The information was not acted upon or integrated into threat assessments conRogcerning Kennedy’s safety leading up to Dallas.
Bolden had been alarmed after witnessing agents on the presidential protection detail routinely violating Secret Service prohibitions against consuming alcohol and engaging in late night recreation while responsible for protecting the president on trips away from Washington.
He also had concerns over agents who he had heard made disparaging comments about Kennedy, some going so far as to imply they would not do what was required to ensure the president’s absolute safety, if faced with an assassination attempt. Some of the same individuals also expressed blatant racial hostility towards Bolden.
After Kennedy was assassinated, in May 1964, while the Warren Commission was in the midst of taking testimony about the conduct of Secret Service personnel, Bolden was abruptly indicted for allegedly soliciting a bribe from a counterfeiting ring he had been instrumental in arresting. Bolden was put through two trials in federal court in Chicago before a conviction could be obtained.
The first trial ended with a hung jury, even after the presiding judge openly opined to the jury his belief that Bolden was guilty of the charges. The only two witnesses against Bolden, besides the agent to whom they made their allegations against Bolden, Frank Jones and Joseph Spagnoli, were both facing felony charges originating from the same Secret Service office where Bolden was employed.
Spagnoli was subsequently convicted of counterfeiting and sentenced to 15 years in federal prison. During his trial, Spagnoli testified that he lied in Bolden’s trial and that his perjury was suborned by the government.
Despite his years of honorable duty in the Secret Service without a single blemish or hint of corruption, Bolden was sentenced to six years, serving 3 years and 3 months, resulting in the destruction of his career and livelihood. Bolden had never been charged with so much as a single offense of any kind before this arrest, and has never been charged with a single offense in the 54 years since.
Stone told Major League Liberty.
“Mr. Bolden’s story is compelling and a pardon is well-deserved for this upstanding citizen. Abe Bolden’s life and otherwise-exemplary career of public service were ground to dust by the intrigues of an era in which the systematic corruption was so profound and went so high in our government that the life of a black man, even America’s first black Secret Service Agent, meant nothing in the midst of an official cover-up of the assassination of the nation’s 36th president, a cover-up which continues to this day.”
Acclaimed author and researcher Vincent Palamara, Jr., considered the nation’s foremost expert on the history of the Secret Service, also wrote to President Trump in support of a pardon for Bolden that, “It is my absolute learned opinion and professional judgment that Mr. Bolden was framed and wrongfully arrested, charged and incarcerated for an alleged crime that he did not commit.”
Palamara added, “Mr. Bolden adamantly maintains his innocence and I, along with many others, agree with his assessment… many authors and researchers are on Mr. Bolden’s side. Our dream is to right this wrong and see him pardoned…I know it is his family’s dream to see him receive justice, even at this late date. It is never too late for truth or justice.”
As for Stone, who authored the New York Times bestselling book The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ, the pardoning of Bolden by President Trump is a “no-brainer.”
“I can think of no better person in the presidency who has a keener sense of justice and fairness than President Trump and I deeply hope he will use his prerogative to give Mr. Bolden the justice that has eluded him for over half a century, which even America’s first African-American president and his African-American Attorney General simply chose to ignore.”
Stone also called on the President to order the “full, permanent, unrestricted and total” declassification of all records in possession of the U.S. Government pertaining to the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy and the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“President Trump will rightfully be revered and remembered for the ages by doing what should have been done for the last half century, giving America the truth about the dark past of a government run amok”, Stone stated, “ I urge him to pardon Abraham Bolden and to release everything the government has about November 22, 1963 and the other seminal assassinations that changed the course of our history, and not for the better.”