In the wake of a report from The Daily Beast that claimed that Donald Trump is considering clemency for Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht, Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie appeared on Fox News to slam the “ridiculous” sentencing of the 36-year-old.
“This is the greatest violation of the eighth amendment that I’m aware of in the United States today,” he said.
“It’s a prohibition on the federal government on exacting cruel and unusual punishment. Ross Ulbricht, what he did from a computer screen, does not deserve two life sentences plus 40 years without the chance of parole.”
Massie noted that two Secret Service and Drug Enforcement Administration agents involved in Ulbricht’s case — Shaun Bridges and Carl Force, respectively — were arrested and imprisoned for stealing money from Silk Road, as Wired reported. He also claimed that Ulbricht’s sentence stemmed from a plan to make an example of him due to his involvement in Bitcoin — which, in 2011, Massie said “was an illicit substance itself.”
“The federal government was afraid of Bitcoin, and honestly, I think they still are. But they were afraid of Bitcoin, and they wanted to make an example out of somebody.”
In case you missed it, I was a guest on Fox Business's @KennedyNation yesterday. We discussed why Ross Ulbricht (@RealRossU) should receive clemency from President Trump and the legislation I introduced with Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard that repeals the PATRIOT Act. pic.twitter.com/zBTE8oPUGL
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) December 17, 2020
According to Massie, the federal government enacted “cruel and unusual punishment” on Ulbricht — in conflict with the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution — as a part of this purported battle against cryptocurrency.
Massie also contrasted Ulbricht’s case with those against intelligence leakers Julian Assange and Edward Snowden — both of whom he also supports clemency for. He pointed to the fact that Ulbricht has already served seven years in prison and is not asking specifically for a pardon but just for clemency. The Kentucky lawmaker said a reduction to time served would be fair, adding that the sum of the sentences of all of the arrests of people linked to activity on Silk Road would not match Ulbricht’s sentencing.
According to The Daily Beast, three people familiar with the matter said that Trump is considering a pardon for Ulbricht. He has allegedly expressed sympathy for him behind closed doors and is considering granting him a pardon before Joe Biden enters the White House.
Ulbricht’s Silk Road was the world’s first large-scale drug market on the darknet and served as a blueprint for many imitators. He was also accused of commissioning the murder of five users of the website, although the charges were later dismissed with prejudice. The alleged murder-for-hire was arranged by Force, who is currently imprisoned.