With it looking like Donald Trump is on his way out of the White House, a number of congressional Republicans who never really cared for the president have felt emboldened to more openly express their true feelings about the president — and Michigan Rep. Fred Upton is no exception.
The Republican congressman sharply criticized President Trump on Thursday for his decision to grant a pardon to Upton’s predecessor in Michigan’s 4th District, former GOP Rep. Mark Siljander, the Washington Examiner reported.
According to the Examiner, Upton said he was “stunned” and “beyond disappointed” that Trump had granted clemency to Siljander, who had been accused — albeit not convicted — of being involved in a conspiracy to launder money and lobby on behalf of a charity group linked to radical Islamic terrorism.
“I am beyond disappointed”
The Michigan representative’s message came in a pair of tweets posted Christmas Eve.
“I am beyond disappointed the President used his pardon authority on Mark Siljander, who accepted a plea bargain and lesser charges and still served a year in federal prison after having been indicted with a series of federal crimes including obstruction of justice, money…laundering, and lobbying for an international terrorist group with ties to Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda, and the Taliban,” Upton wrote.
“Just stunned,” he added. “I wish the President would instead focus his energy on helping the millions of families and small businesses ravaged by the pandemic.”
…laundering, and lobbying for an international terrorist group with ties to Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda, and the Taliban. Just stunned. I wish the President would instead focus his energy on helping the millions of families and small businesses ravaged by the pandemic.
— Fred Upton #WearYourMask (@RepFredUpton) December 24, 2020
“Peace and mutual understanding”
According to the Examiner, Siljander originally faced federal charges for his work with the Islamic American Relief Agency, a purported charitable group that was designated as a global terrorist organization after it was accused of funneling upwards of $130,000 to former Afghan Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a warlord who was accused of terrorism by the U.S. Treasury Department.
Siljander pleaded not guilty in federal court in 2008 to a slew of felony charges including conspiracy, money laundering, and obstruction of justice. Virtually all of those charges were eventually dropped, however, as the Examiner reported, and in the end, Siljander pleaded guilty to one count of obstruction — over lying to investigators about his role with the charity — and for acting as an unregistered foreign agent.
Siljander was reportedly sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison.
According to the White House, though, the full pardon that Trump granted to Siljander this week had the support of former Attorney General Ed Meese, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R), former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R), Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL), and Pastor Mark Brunson.
In its statement, the White House praised Siljander for his staunch pro-life stance while in Congress and his work to ensure that taxpayer funds were prohibited from being used to lobby either for or against abortion. The White House also noted that, since serving his time in prison, Siljander has “devoted himself to traveling in the Middle East and Africa to promote peace and mutual understanding.”