pardon me?
January 19, 2021

President Trump has spent the last few days asking his friends, aides, and associates if they would like pardons — even those who are not facing any charges, a senior administration official told The Washington Post.

In one case, the official said, Trump offered a pardon to a person who declined the chance at clemency, saying they weren't in any legal trouble and hadn't committed any crimes. "Trump's response was, 'Yeah, well, but you never know. They're going to come after us all. Maybe it's not a bad idea. Just let me know,'" the official recounted.

Trump has taken a great interest in pardoning people, the Post reports, even calling families to personally let them know he granted a pardon. A person familiar with the matter told the Post that Trump was talked out of pardoning himself, family members, and controversial figures like Rudy Giuliani. An aide said there was also a brief discussion about possibly issuing pardons related to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, but that idea went nowhere.

While Trump has held a few ceremonial events in recent weeks, journalists have been kept away from the White House, largely because the president is "just not in a place where they would go well," one official told the Post. Trump is constantly flip-flopping, another administration official said, talking about his future but uncertain of where he will be. "He goes between, 'Well, I'm going to go to Florida and play golf, and life is honestly better,' and then in the next moment, it's like, 'But don't you think there's a chance to stay?'" the official said. Read more at The Washington Post. Catherine Garcia

January 12, 2021

If you were hoping for a last-minute pardon from President Trump, ABC News' Jonathan Karl has some bad news for you. After last week's assault on the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters, right after Trump urged them to march on the Capitol, Trump is not in the pardoning mood, Karl told anchor David Muir on Monday's ABC World News Tonight.

"The president has been warned, David, by some of his lawyers that if he goes ahead and pardons himself, he could be more vulnerable to civil lawsuits, including from some of those injured in the Capitol riot, because a self-pardon would be seen as an admission that he did something wrong that he would need to be pardoned for," Karl said. "The president is angry, he has not taken that well, and I am told that he is now saying that he doesn't want to see pardons for anybody. So the attitude seems to be: 'If I can't get a pardon, then nobody else should get one, either.'"

Trump is holed up in the White House with a dwindling group of advisers as the House moves to impeach him for a second time, probably with some Republican support this time, after social media companies kicked him off his favorite form of communication and companies say they will no longer do business with him. The PGA's decision to drop his New Jersey golf course from hosting the 2022 PGA Championship "is a big blow to Donald Trump," Karl confirmed. "I am told that the president is livid about this."

It isn't clear Trump actually has the authority to pardon himself — no president has ever tried — but White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and other advisers have explained to Trump that even if he could insulate himself from federal criminal charges, he could still be sued, ABC News reports. "Think O.J.," one adviser reportedly told Trump, referring to O.J. Simpson paying steep civil damages after he was acquitted of murder. Following these conversations, ABC News says, the entire pardon process has been put "on hold." Peter Weber

December 24, 2020

President Trump on Wednesday issued a second wave of pardons and other clemency to 29 people, including former campaign manager Paul Manafort, Republican operative Roger Stone, and Charles Kushner, Ivanka Trump's father-in-law. Twenty-six of the people received pardons, and three got commuted sentences.

Manafort and Stone, a longtime Trump political confidant, were convicted as part of the federal investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Manafort was sentenced to seven years for bank and tax fraud, and other crimes. He was released to home confinement in May due to coronavirus concerns. Stone was charged with lying to Congress, but Trump commuted his 40-month sentence in July. Charles Kushner, Jared Kushner's father, served two years for tax fraud and witness tampering. Harold Maass

December 2, 2020

Retired Gen. Michael Flynn is fresh off a presidential pardon and ready to get back into some trouble.

President Trump pardoned his short-lived national security adviser last week, after Flynn had previously pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with a Russian ambassador. Flynn has since been sharing dubious allegations of voter fraud, and on Wednesday, boosted a message telling Trump to take some radical actions to stop it.

In a full-page Washington Times ad from something called the We the People Convention, Ohio Tea Party leader Tom Zawistowski tries to draw a comparison between Lincoln trying to save the union in 1863 and Trump trying to claw back the 2020 election, using some disputed facts along the way. Zawistowski alleges a lot of similarities between the two times, from "Democrat/Socialist federal officials plotting to finish gutting the U.S. Constitution" to big tech "actively censoring free speech and promoting leftist propaganda." So to counter that, the We the People Convention suggests Trump "declare limited Martial Law to temporarily suspend the Constitution" in order to hold a presidential election re-vote overseen by the military.

Flynn shared the ad on Twitter on Wednesday, seemingly trying to encourage a bunch of Fox News hosts and QAnon supporters to share it. It's just one of many disputed facts and allegations about the election that are apparently flowing through the mind of the man who used to oversee America's national security. Kathryn Krawczyk

December 1, 2020

The U.S. was investigating a potential "bribery-for-pardon" scheme in involving a federal convict, two intermediaries, and White House officials as recently as August, a federal judge in Washington revealed in a court filing Tuesday.

The 18-page document, from Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell and dated Aug. 28, was heavily redacted, revealing none of the people involved. But it did indicate that federal prosecutors were investigating whether the intermediaries secretly lobbied White House officials for a pardon or commuted sentence, and a parallel scheme in which a pardon or "reprieve of sentence" would be traded for a potential political contribution. The convict apparently seeking clemency was imprisoned as recently as this summer.

Only the president has the power to pardon federal crimes, but there is no indication President Trump was aware of the schemes. "No government official was or is currently a subject or target of the investigation disclosed in this filing," a Justice Department official told The Washington Post.

The document Howell released involved her approving a request from investigators to read certain emails connected to the scheme, ruling they were not protected by attorney-client privilege. Whatever the investigation entailed, the document shows that 50 electronic devices, including laptops and iPads, were seized. The status of the investigation is unclear. Peter Weber

December 1, 2020

Rudy Giuliani has reportedly discussed with President Trump the idea of receiving a potential "pre-emptive pardon" prior to the end of his term in office.

Giuliani, Trump's lawyer who has sought to challenge the results of the 2020 presidential election over baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud, has "discussed with the president as recently as last week" a potential pardon, The New York Times reported on Tuesday. The Times notes that Giuliani's "potential criminal exposure is unclear," though he has come under investigation over his Ukraine business dealings. He hasn't faced charges.

According to the report, Trump hasn't yet indicated whether he might issue this pre-emptive pardon for his personal attorney, and it also reportedly isn't clear who raised the idea. But this report comes after last week, Trump pardoned Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, and CNN writes that he's "expected to issue a string of additional pardons before leaving the White House."

Robert Costello, Giuliani's lawyer, told the Times that "he's not concerned about this investigation, because he didn't do anything wrong and that's been our position from Day 1," while a spokesperson said "Mayor Giuliani cannot comment on any discussions that he has with his client." Giuliani himself denied the report on Twitter, saying he "never had the discussion they falsely attribute to an anonymous source." Brendan Morrow

November 13, 2020

President Trump is very likely to issue a raft of pardons in the last 10 weeks of his presidency. Many presidents do, and Trump in particular has been "obsessed with the power of pardons" ever since he learned he had that power in 2017, a former White House official tells CNN. "I always thought he also liked it because it was a way to do a favor."

Unidentified sources tell CNN that Trump is most likely to pardon former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn; former campaign chair Paul Manafort; Rudy Giuliani; Charles Kushner, the father of his son-in-law Jared Kushner; Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg; his children; and maybe even himself. "Trump has been asking aides since 2017 about whether he can self-pardon," CNN reports, citing former aides, and he himself tweeted in June 2018: "As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself."

It isn't clear at all Trump does have that power. The courts haven't been asked to decide whether a president can self-pardon, and when the Nixon White House looked into it, the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel said no. "Under the fundamental rule that no one may be a judge in his own case, the president cannot pardon himself," the OLC wrote in August 1974.

Would Trump really test this out? "Of course he will," one former official said. "Others believe it's unlikely, because doing so would imply he's guilty of something," CNN reports. Garrett Graff suggested Trump might try to pardon a corporation, the Trump Organization.

Former U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance told MSNBC Thursday night she fully expects Trump to at least try to self-pardon, but noted it won't protect him from civil charges from New York Attorney General Letitia James or "criminal investigations that are clearly being done by Manhattan D.A. Cy Vance." She also marveled at "the audacity of a president who's so clearly concerned about his own criminal culpability, and that of his family members, that pardons are a major obsession with him." Watch below. Peter Weber

November 28, 2018

Days after Special Counsel Robert Mueller accused Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chairman, of violating his plea agreement, Trump is signaling that he could receive a pardon.

Trump told The New York Post in an interview Wednesday that he has "never discussed" pardoning Manafort, who in August was convicted of five counts of tax fraud and two counts of bank fraud and who in September pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy. Manafort agreed to cooperate with Mueller's investigation into the Trump campaign's possible involvement with Russian election interference. That being said, Trump added of a possible pardon, "I wouldn't take it off the table. Why would I take it off the table?"

Mueller earlier this week said that Manafort violated the terms of his plea deal by lying to federal investigators about "a variety of subject matters," per The New York Times. The Times also reported that Manafort's lawyer briefed Trump's lawyers about his discussions with investigators, which "inflamed tensions with the special counsel's office." Trump's comments about a possible pardon came just hours after he refused to speak about Manafort in an interview with The Washington Post, saying he did not want to "get in the middle of the whole thing." Brendan Morrow

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