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Published on May 27, 2024
Donald Trump Pledges to Commute Silk Road Founder's Sentence if Re-elected, Endorses Crypto Industry GrowthSource: Shaleah Craighead, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Former President Donald Trump has vowed to commute the life sentence of "Silk Road" founder Ross Ulbricht if he wins back the White House, as he announced during the Libertarian National Convention over the weekend, KXAN reports. Ulbricht, an Austin native, is serving a life sentence after his 2015 conviction for creating the notorious online drug marketplace.

"If you vote for me, on day one I will commute the sentence of Ross Ulbricht," Trump declared, focusing not only on potentially liberating Ulbricht but also using this promise as a springboard to address a broader agenda that includes embracing the crypto industry that Ulbricht's platform infamously utilized; this industry Trump promised to protect and foster during his address. The former President's remarks elicited a spirited response from the audience, dotted with "Free Ross" signs and chants supporting Ulbricht's release, according to CoinDesk.

Known for facilitating anonymous transactions on the dark web, Silk Road was a pioneer in the real-world application of Bitcoin, existing from 2011 to 2013 until Ulbricht's arrest; prosecutors accounted for over one million drug deals on the site, accumulating $18 million in Bitcoin for Ulbricht. The libertarian and crypto communities have since rallied behind him, viewing his sentence as an excessive punishment and a mishandling of justice.

Trump's commitment to the cryptocurrency sector was underscored by a series of online statements made just hours before the convention speech, "I am very positive and open minded to cryptocurrency companies, and all things related to this new and burgeoning industry," Trump expressed on Truth Social, taking a jab at President Joe Biden's administration, suggesting that under his leadership, the industry would prosper in stark contrast to what he portrayed as Biden's mission to "die a slow and painful death" for the crypto industry, the ex-President made his stance clear, stating, "I will ensure that the future of crypto and the future of bitcoin will be made in the USA, not driven overseas," as reported by CoinDesk. He also promised to keep regulators like Elizabeth Warren away from Bitcoin and opposed the creation of a central bank digital currency.

This isn't the first time Trump has used his power to influence high-profile sentences, as he issued several pardons and commuted sentences during his time in office. However, notable figures such as Julian Assange and Edward Snowden did not receive clemency, according to CoinDesk. With the presidential race heating up, Trump’s pledge regarding Ulbricht could signal a key promise to voters interested in criminal justice reform and cryptocurrency liberty.