“Milken and I are good friends now, and I believe Milken is an excellent candidate for a pardon,” Mr. Giuliani told the Fox News host Sean Hannity on Nov. 10, 2016, less than 48 hours after Mr. Trump’s electoral triumph.
“Wow,” Mr. Hannity said.
The endorsement was notable in part because Mr. Giuliani, as the United States attorney for Manhattan in the 1980s, had presided over the investigation of Mr. Milken. The two men later became close, bonding over Mr. Milken’s financial support for research into prostate cancer, which both men had battled.
Mr. Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, also supported a pardon, according to people familiar with the effort. Mr. Mnuchin has known Mr. Milken for years, and he flew last year on Mr. Milken’s private jet. Mr. Mnuchin has been a speaker at the Milken Institute’s conference. He also spoke at a Milken-sponsored event at the Hamptons home of the billionaire real estate magnate Richard LeFrak, a longtime friend of Mr. Trump’s whom the White House identified as supporting the pardon.
Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, also supported a presidential pardon. Mr. Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, have had prominent speaking platforms at Milken Institute gatherings.
This time Mr. Milken didn’t file a petition with the Justice Department, and his supporters also bypassed it, going directly to the White House.
When Mr. Trump announced the pardon on Feb. 18, the White House played down Mr. Milken’s crimes, calling the federal charges against him “novel” and asserting that he pleaded guilty in 1990 only to spare his younger brother, Lowell Milken, from prosecution. Mr. Milken’s spokesman has made similar claims in the past. The White House declined to comment on the record.