WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump and aides are putting together a final list of pardons and commutations that could reach more than 100 names, advisers said Monday.
But Trump is not expected to pardon himself or issue preemptive pardons for members of his family, said advisers who were not authorized to comment publicly and refused to discuss who might be on the list that has been developed for weeks.
The president has discussed the idea of preemptive pardons, aides said, but officials said family members do not need them and attorneys questioned the legality of a self-pardon.
Allies have also warned Trump not to pardon supporters who have been charged with breaking into the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6.
“To seek a pardon of these people would be wrong,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said this past weekend on Fox News. “I think it would destroy President Trump. And I hope we don’t go down that road.”
Trump will put out a final list of pardons sometime before his term expires at noon Wednesday, said two advisers who spoke on condition of anonymity because the list is not yet public.
The president is scheduled to depart the White House early Wednesday morning for his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida.
Some of Trump’s pardons are likely to be criticized, advisers said, and have been the subject of intense lobbying of the president by attorneys, political allies and other interested parties.
That group includes Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder indicted in 2019 on espionage charges, and Edward Snowden, the fugitive American who leaked secret files revealing vast surveillance operations carried out by the U.S. National Security Agency.
Lawmakers have asked Trump not to pardon Assange and Snowden.
Trump is also expected to pardon or commute the sentences of prisoners as part of his efforts at criminal justice reform, aides said. The White House has called for reduced prison time for less serious, non-violent criminal offenses.
Last-minute pardons, including disputed ones, are something of a tradition for outgoing presidents.
As he left office in 2001, President Bill Clinton pardoned fugitive financier Marc Rich in a move some analysts tied to financial contributions.
In late 1992, his term soon to expire, President George H.W. Bush pardoned aides involved in the Iran-Contra scandal.
Trump has granted clemency to more than 90 people during his term in office, including allies and former aides involved in the investigation of Russian election interference during the 2016 election.
That group includes Paul Manafort, a Trump campaign manager in 2016 who was convicted of defrauding banks; George Papadopoulos, a former campaign aide who admitted lying to the FBI; and Michael Flynn, a retired Army general who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian officials.
Trump also commuted the sentence of longtime political adviser Roger Stone just days before he was set to report to prison after he was convicted of lying to Congress and obstructing the Russia investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Among other pardons: Charles Kushner, the father of presidential son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner. The elder Kushner has been convicted of preparing false tax returns and witness retaliation.
Pardons have also been granted to two former Republican members of Congress who were early supporters of Trump’s presidential bid: Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., who had pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds; and Chris Collins, R-N.Y., who had pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to commit securities fraud.
In many cases, Trump did not work with the pardons office at the Department of Justice, but took action on his own based on requests by lobbyists to him and his top aides.
Legal analysts said Trump has turned the presidential pardon power into a personal project designed to reward friends and political supporters.
Bradley P. Moss, a national security attorney, said Trump’s final pardon list will probably feature “a smattering of contradictions.”
“There will likely be some nominally worthy candidates, such as non-violent offenders who may have already served time and who most likely have some type of celebrity backer who has the ear of Jared Kushner,” Moss said.
There also will likely be “clearly transactional pardons,” Moss said, including “allies of the president who committed white collar crimes in the last few years.”
“What is almost guaranteed,” he said, “is the traditional pardon review process will continue to be ignored as much as it has been for the last four years.”