Trump to announce plans to commute 'Silk Road' website operator Ross Ulbricht’s prison sentence

WASHINGTON — Former President Donald Trump plans to announce at the Libertarian National Convention on Saturday that he intends to commute “Silk Road” website operator Ross Ulbricht’s life sentence, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Ulbricht was sentenced to life in federal prison in 2015 for creating and operating a hidden website known as “Silk Road” that people used to buy and sell drugs, among other illegal goods and services.

Many libertarians have called for Ulbricht’s release. At the convention on Saturday, the crowd was filled with “Free Ross” signs and took up chants in support of Ulbricht.

However, Trump’s previous comments about drug dealers are in conflict with Saturday’s planned announcement about Ulbricht.

The former president has said that the death penalty should be instituted for certain drug dealers, depending on the severity of the crime.

Preet Bharara, who was U.S. attorney for Manhattan when Ulbricht was sentenced in 2015, said in a press release at the time that Ulbricht’s actions contributed to at least six deaths. Bharara also called Ulbricht “a drug dealer and criminal profiteer.”

“While in operation, Silk Road was used by thousands of drug dealers and other unlawful vendors to distribute hundreds of kilograms of illegal drugs and other unlawful goods and services to more than 100,000 buyers, and to launder hundreds of millions of dollars deriving from these unlawful transactions,” Immigration and Customs Enforcement said a 2015 press release announcing Ulbricht’s sentencing.

On Friday night, the libertarian crowd was hostile to mentions of Trump, and the audience booed when Vivek Ramaswamy brought up the former president. Separately, the crowd cheered one Libertarian Party member’s suggestion that “we go tell Donald Trump to go f— himself.”

“What he’s really trying to do is to show that he can be a president for all Americans,” a Trump campaign official said ahead of the former president’s remarks. “If you want to compete for nontraditional Republican votes, then you got to go where they are. You can’t expect them to just show up to you.”

The Libertarian National Convention is taking place at D.C.’s Washington Hilton hotel.

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