Everything is a transaction. He likes pardons because it is unilateral. And he likes doing favors for people he thinks will owe him. — a CNN source
Everything is a transaction. He likes pardons because it is unilateral. And he likes doing favors for people he thinks will owe him. — a CNN source
Trump issues 73 pardons and 70 commutations in a final wave of executive clemency grants before leaving office
  • President Trump issued 73 pardons and 70 commutations on Tuesday as one of his final actions in office.
  • Trump was criticized for bypassing the DOJ review process that decides who gets executive clemency.
President Donald Trump issued more than 140 pardons and commutations late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning, as one of his final acts before he leaves office on Wednesday.

The Washington Post reported that Trump and close aides, including his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, drew up the list during a Sunday meeting in the Oval Office. The New York Times reported that Ivanka sent the final list to the White House counsel's office for approval and that the Justice Department's pardon office, which typically reviews who gets executive clemency grants, was not included in the process.


Several people on the list include:
  • Former chief strategist Steve Bannon will be pardoned
  • Former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick will be granted a commutation
  • Rapper Lil Wayne will be granted a commutation
  • Rapper Kodak Black will be granted clemency a commutation
  • Former RNC finance chair Elliott Broidy will be pardoned
However, a number of individuals speculated to receive a pardon or commutation did not appear on the president's final list, including Rudy Giuliani, Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, and Joe Exotic.

According to The Times, Trump came to his decision on including those individuals after consulting with the criminal justice advocacy group #Cut50, the former Koch Industries executive Mark Holden, and Alice Johnson, a criminal justice reform advocate who was convicted on drug trafficking charges and sentenced to life in prison before Trump commuted her sentence and later granted her a full pardon.

Before the White House announced the latest pardons and commutations, a source told CNN that some Trump allies believe many of the recipients were people the president expects to enjoy beneficial relationships with after he leaves office.

"Everything is a transaction," the source told CNN. "He likes pardons because it is unilateral. And he likes doing favors for people he thinks will owe him."

... The president is granted extraordinarily broad pardon powers under the Constitution. But Trump has drawn significant scrutiny for circumventing the lengthy legal and ethical review process at the Justice Department that determines who gets executive clemency.

Instead, the vast majority of the president's most high-profile pardons and commutations have gone to his friends and loyalists, or to others whose names were suggested by conservative media powerhouses, such as Fox News, Newsmax, and One America News.