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Donald Trump issued three pardons for Thanksgiving this year; the first two — Corn and Cob — were granted clemency by the president on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020, he extended the gift of freedom to Michael Flynn.
As usual, Trump used Twitter, his favorite form of communication, to announce, with great flourish, that he granted a full pardon to General Flynn. Then he congratulated the general and his family before wishing them a “truly fantastic Thanksgiving.”
In response to his pardon, Flynn thanked the president for answering his prayers and those of the nation.
The Trump-Train Clemency Party Begins
Flynn could be Trump’s first end-of-term pardon from a long line of individuals to be granted freedom from prosecution. He only has a little over two months to exercise this Executive Power. Trump’s list of potential grantees is packed with political allies, loyalists, supporters, employees, family members, and anyone whose prosecution the president branded as “unfair.”
The granting of a pardon to a person who has committed a crime or who has been convicted of a crime is an act of clemency, which forgives the wrongdoer and restores the person’s Civil Rights. At the federal level, the president has the power to grant a pardon.
General Flynn admitted he was guilty of lying to the FBI during the Russia probe — twice. He retracted his pleas shortly before the Justice Department intervened and dismissed the case.
People who might be on the list include:
- Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, is serving seven-plus years. He is serving his federal sentence at home due to the coronavirus pandemic. The president feels Manafort’s prosecution was not fair, and in the past, inferred, he would consider granting him a pardon in connection with the Meuller investigation.
- Roger Stone, a longtime ally of the president, was convicted on seven counts of obstruction of justice. He impeded Meuller’s inquiry and was convicted of tampering with witnesses and lying to Congress. Trump already commuted his sentence but could decide to forgive his friend’s crimes.
- Rudy Giuliani is Trump’s so-called personal lawyer, fixer, unofficial foreign ambassador, conspiracy theory promoter, and loyal toady. Giuliani is the subject of a wire-tapping investigation by prosecutors in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. While no charges have been brought, the president may “pre-emptively lift any cloud of uncertainty” by helping his pal with a pardon.
- Steve Bannon, also a former campaign CEO and former White House strategist for Trump who remained loyal to the president. He was recently charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering under the guise of obtaining funding for the America/Mexico border wall — one of Trump’s beloved projects.
- Members of the Trump family and executives of his real estate company could be extended preemptive pardons from future federal prosecution, including Donald Jr., Eric, and Chief Financial Officer Allen Wesisselberg. The Trump Organization is under investigation by New York state attorneys, but the case could untimely be referred to a federal court — something the president is desperate to avoid.
- Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, the president’s son-in-law and eldest daughter, have been under attack about the use of their positions as senior advisors to boost their personal businesses. Moreover, since they would have insider knowledge of Trump’s most sensitive decisions as president, making targets for investigation. To protect them, and himself, Trump could insulate them from prosecution with clemency.
Each of these individuals has personal knowledge of the president’s actions, which are likely questionable from a legal perspective. Most of his crew were directly or indirectly respondents in the Meuller investigation.
Trump needs their silence and is willing to break the law by offering pardons in exchange for their silence — witness tampering.
If the president wields his magic marker he could eliminate hope that the American people will see justice served.
A Northeastern University law professor said that any family member’s pardon would not be at risk of a legal challenge. The Supreme Court upholds the presidential power to grant pardons.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
AP News: Trump pardons Flynn despite guilty plea in Russia Probe; by Eric Tucker
The Detroit News: Trump expected to unleash clemency power after election, win or lose; by Greg Farrell
EveryCRSReport: Presidential Pardons: Overview and Selected Legal Issues; by Michael A. Foster, Legislative Attorney
Featured and Top Images Courtesy of Gage Skidmore’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License