pardon me
February 18, 2020

President Trump's clemency philosophy is clearly go big or go home.

After pardoning ex-San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. and commuting the sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Tuesday, Trump turned around added some more high-profile people to the list. Former New York Police Department Commissioner Bernard Kerik and prominent financier Michael Milken are among those Trump pardoned Tuesday, while also bringing nonviolent drug offenders into the mix.

The White House statement announcing Trump's clemency decisions homes in on the positive things these convicted offenders have done. Trump highlights how Kerik "courageously led the New York Police Department’s heroic response to the horrific attacks of September 11, 2001," and how after receiving a 4-year sentence for tax fraud, became a "passionate advocate for criminal justice and prisoner reentry reform." Milken is similarly honored as "one of America's greatest financiers," and the statement characterizes his violations of U.S. securities laws as "innovative financing mechanisms."

Trump also highlights a few lesser-known convicts in his Tuesday clemency spree, namely nonviolent drug offenders Tynice Nichole Hall and Crystal Munoz. They were pardoned with support from Alice Johnson, another drug offender who Trump similarly pardoned in 2018 with backing from Kim Kardashian-West. Former George W. Bush official David Safavian and author Angela Stanton, both advocates for criminal justice reform, were also pardoned. Kathryn Krawczyk

May 15, 2019

President Trump on Wednesday pardoned Pat Nolan, a former Republican lawmaker from California who was convicted in the 1990s as part of an FBI sting operation dubbed "Shrimpscam."

Nolan was elected to the California State Assembly in 1978, and served as the GOP leader from 1984 to 1988. Shrimpscam targeted politicians who used their positions to solicit illegal campaign donations, and Nolan was caught on camera accepting checks from an undercover FBI agent, the Los Angeles Times reports. He pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering, and served time in prison.

In a statement, the White House said Nolan made the "difficult choice" to plead guilty. He could have defended himself and risked "decades in prison, or he could plead guilty and accept a 33-month sentence," the White House said. "Determined to help his wife raise their three young children, Mr. Nolan chose to accept the plea." After he got out of prison, Nolan began campaigning for criminal justice and sentencing reform. Catherine Garcia

March 7, 2019

Michael Cohen in 2018 had his then-attorney, Stephen Ryan, ask about the possibility of receiving a pardon from President Trump, Cohen's current lawyer, Lanny Davis, told The Wall Street Journal Wednesday. This request from Ryan was first reported by the Journal Monday but was not then confirmed by Cohen's camp.

Davis said Cohen last year "directed [Ryan] to explore possibilities of a pardon at one point with Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani as well as other lawyers advising President Trump." The inquiry was made in spring 2018, after the FBI raided Cohen's home and office, and Giuliani reportedly suggested a future pardon was possible.

This development comes after Cohen previously told Congress under oath, "I have never asked for, nor would I accept, a pardon from Mr. Trump."

But Davis argued to The New York Times there is no contradiction of the testimony because Cohen was talking about his actions after July 2018, "the period where he had made his decision to tell the truth." Davis also said Ryan contacted Trump's team because they had been "dangling" the possibility of a pardon, and that Cohen was "willing to explore" this when "he was still part of their club." Brendan Morrow

February 26, 2019

In a last-ditch effort to secure a lighter sentence for their client, lawyers for Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chair who was convicted last year of eight counts of financial fraud, have argued that because Manafort is not being charged by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office with any involvement in Russian interference during the 2016 presidential election — the primary focus of Mueller's investigation — he should receive leniency.

The defense team is calling for a sentence of fewer than 10 years, a stark contrast to a previous sentencing memo from Mueller's office which recommended Manafort be sentenced to between 19 and 25 years in prison.

But in an appearance on CNN on Tuesday, Joe Lockhart, a former Clinton administration White House press secretary, said that the legal team's statement was intended not for Judge Amy Berman Jackson, but President Trump. Lockhart argued that Manafort hopes to secure not a lighter sentence, but a presidential pardon.

"It was written for the president and the president alone, to say 'You're being persecuted here, Donald Trump,'" Lockhart said, pointing out similarities between the request and Trump's tweets. "'I'm being persecuted for the same thing. Help me out here, pardon me.' That's what it's all about."

Trump has declined to rule out a pardon for Manafort. Watch the clip at Mediaite. Tim O'Donnell

August 23, 2018

President Trump sat down with Fox & Friends host Ainsley Earhardt on Wednesday, and on Wednesday night, she commended Trump's courage to fellow Fox News personality Sean Hannity. "There was breaking news yesterday, and so much negative news — hats off to him for sitting down with me today," she said. "I think that was very brave." She told Hannity that she would make news on Thursday's Fox & Friends, but she did disclose some new details of her interview, specifically that Trump is angry at his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, but not at his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, both of whom became felons on Tuesday. (That part isn't news if you read Trump's Twitter feed.)

"Is he more mad at Michael because of the tape?" Hannity asked. "Absolutely," said Earhardt. "He mentioned pardoning Manafort." "He did mention pardoning Manafort?" Hannity asked. "He did, he did, and said he would consider that," Earhardt said. "He feels, I think, he feels so — I think he feels bad for Manafort."

Earhardt and Hannity both got some significant facts wrong, but Earhardt did tease what she called big news about what Trump said regarding Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. She also said Trump agreed that Democrats would likely impeach him if they win the House and complained about Hillary Clinton. Peter Weber

June 16, 2018

President Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, visited CNN Friday night to talk about — what else? — Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. Host Chris Cuomo honed in on Giuliani's suggestion earlier in the day that "when the whole thing is over," former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort (presently jailed for alleged witness tampering) may get a presidential pardon.

Giuliani maintained his personal advice to Trump is "no pardons," and that he was merely reflecting on the historical record when he spoke about Manafort. He also argued Trump's recent consideration of pardons for high-profile figures like Martha Stewart and Rod Blagojevich is not intended to send a message to associates under Mueller's scrutiny.

"Let me make it clear right now, anybody listening," Giuiani said, "[Trump] is not going to pardon anybody in this investigation, but he is not obviously going to give up his right to pardon if a miscarriage of justice is presented to him after the investigation." When Cuomo pushed back, suggesting Trump should recuse himself from pardoning people in connection to this specific probe, Giuliani refused to back down. If Trump did that, he said, "he might as well give up being president!"

Watch the full interview; the pardon discussion begins around the 10-minute mark. Bonnie Kristian

June 5, 2018

Presidential pardons are all the rage these days, and George Papadopoulos is hopping on the bandwagon.

Simona Mangiante Papadopoulos, the wife of the disgraced former adviser to President Trump, was asked on Monday's Tucker Carlson Tonight if she thinks her husband is going to prison. She was quick to reaffirm how "dedicated and committed" her husband was to the Trump campaign, and said that his loyalty should have earned him a pardon from the president.

Papadopoulos was charged in October with making false statements about his Russia connections, likely to impede the Russia investigation. It was later reported that he may have lied to protect Trump and allegedly sparked this whole mess after a few too many drinks.

And don't we all just want forgiveness after one of those nights? Kathryn Krawczyk

December 5, 2014

Actor and producer Mark Wahlberg is asking the Massachusetts Board of Pardons to remove the assault conviction against him from his record.

The news was first reported Thursday by NECN. "Receiving a pardon would be a formal recognition that I am not the same person I was on the night of April 8, 1988," he wrote in his application. "It would be a formal recognition that someone like me can receive official public redemption if he devotes himself to personal improvement and a life of good works."

That night in 1988, police say 16-year-old Wahlberg tried to steal two cases of beer from a Vietnamese man named Thanh Lim, beating him with a five-foot stick while yelling slurs. Wahlberg was charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and possession of a controlled substance, and served 45 days of his 90 day sentence, The Boston Globe reports.

In his application, Wahlberg writes that he supports the Dorchester Boys and Girls Club; started his own charity, the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation; and attends church almost every day. He also mentions that a pardon would help as his family's chain of restaurants, Wahlburgers, expands. "I want people to remember my past so that I can serve as an example of how lives can be turned around and how people can be redeemed," he wrote. Catherine Garcia

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