List of people granted executive clemency by Donald Trump

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Trump in the Oval Office with commutation recipients

Since taking office as the 45th president of the United States on January 20, 2017, Donald Trump has granted executive clemency to 25 individuals charged or convicted of federal criminal offenses, as authorized under Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution.[1] Ordinarily, all requests for executive clemency for federal offenses are directed to the Office of the Pardon Attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice for review; however, Trump has frequently bypassed the Justice Department, and the majority of his executive clemency grants have been to well-connected convicted persons who did not file a petition with the Office of the Pardon Attorney or meet the Office's requirements.[2]

Background[edit]

Article II of the United States Constitution gives the president the power of clemency, which "may take several forms, including pardon, commutation of sentence, remission of fine or restitution, and reprieve".[3] The two most commonly used clemency powers are those of pardon and commutation. A pardon is an official forgiveness for an acknowledged crime. Once a pardon is issued, all punishment for the crime is waived.[4] The president can only grant pardons for federal offenses.[1] The president can also commute a sentence. A commutation reduces the severity of a sentence without vacating the conviction itself; for example, a commutation may reduce or eliminate a prison term, while leaving other punishments intact.[5][6]

The power of clemency is "one of the most unlimited powers bestowed on the president by the Constitution."[2]

Trump's use of executive clemency[edit]

For 125 years, the key adviser to the president on clemency has been the Department of Justice's Office of the Pardon Attorney (OPA) which normally reviews all requests for pardons.[2]

Trump has often bypassed the OPA, and, unlike previous presidents, has made the majority of his grants to executive clemency to "well-connected offenders who had not filed petitions with the pardon office or did not meet its requirements."[2] On February 19, 2020, Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy requested information on the process used by Trump in deciding to grant clemency to 11 people the preceding day.[7][8] In response to criticisms of his bypassing of the OPA, Trump said that he is the "chief law enforcement officer of the country."[9] Legal experts raised concerns that Trump was "relying on his personal connections rather than the Justice Department's established review process for finding convicts deserving of clemency."[9]

Trump has frequently granted executive clemency to his supporters or political allies,[10][11] or following personal appeals or campaigns in conservative media,[12] as in the cases of Rod Blagojevich, Michael Milken, Joe Arpaio, Dinesh D'Souza, and Clint Lorance, as well as Bernard Kerik.[10] Trump's grant of clemency to Roger Stone in July 2020, however, marked "the first figure directly connected to the president's campaign to benefit from his clemency power."[10] Representatives Jerrold Nadler and Carolyn B. Maloney, who chair two House committees, said that "No other president has exercised the clemency power for such a patently personal and self-serving purpose" and said that they would investigate whether Stone's commutation was a reward for protecting Trump.[10] Most Republican elected officials remained silent on Trump's commutation of Stone.[11] Exceptions were Republican Senators Mitt Romney, who termed the commutation "unprecedented, historic corruption," and Pat Toomey, who called the commutation a "mistake" due in part to the severity of the crimes of which Stone was convicted.[13][10][14]

Trump has granted executive clemency to three court-martialed U.S. military officers who were accused or convicted of war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.[15] Trump granted the pardons against the advice of senior military and Defense Department leadership, as well as U.S. military lawyers.[15] Critics state that Trump's pardons of the officers undermined military discipline, constituted an inappropriate interference in the U.S. military justice system, and called into question the U.S. commitment to the law of armed conflict.[16][17][18] Tensions between Trump and the Defense Department regarding Trump's interventions in the military justice system culminated in the firing of Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer.[15][19][20] Two ex-military officers pardoned by Trump appeared with the president at campaign events in 2019.[20]

List of recipients of executive clemency from Trump[edit]

Pardons[edit]

President Donald Trump has issued 25 pardons as of July 1, 2020:

Date of Pardon Name Court Sentencing date Sentence Offense Notes
August 25, 2017 Joe Arpaio United States District Court for the District of Arizona October 5, 2017 N/A – Arpaio's pardon was issued after his conviction, but prior to his being sentenced. Criminal contempt of court Former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona and anti-illegal immigration hardliner, Arpaio was convicted of contempt of court and was awaiting sentencing. Arpaio was pardoned for one contempt offense of which he had been convicted (but not yet sentenced) and for any not-yet-charged offenses he may have committed in the same case. In issuing the pardon, The White House cited Arpaio's "more than fifty years of admirable service to" the United States.[21][22]
March 9, 2018 Kristian Saucier United States District Court for the District of Connecticut August 19, 2016 One year in prison, three years of supervised release, and 100 hours of community service Unauthorized possession and retention of national defense information Saucier was given an other-than-honorable discharge from the Navy for taking photos in a military submarine.[23] At sentencing, Saucier unsuccessfully argued for probation rather than imprisonment on the basis that Hillary Clinton was not indicted for her email controversy.[24]
April 13, 2018 Lewis "Scooter" Libby United States District Court for the District of Columbia June 14, 2007 30 months of prison, two years of probation, and a $250,000 fine Perjury (two counts), obstruction of justice and false statements Previously an aide to former vice president Dick Cheney. Convicted in connection with the CIA leak scandal. Pardoned following an earlier commutation by President George W. Bush in July 2007.[25][26][27]
May 24, 2018 Jack Johnson United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois September 14, 1920 One year and one day in prison, and $1000 fine Violation of the Mann Act Famed boxer, convicted by an all-white jury in 1913 for traveling with his white girlfriend. It was then illegal to transport women across state lines for "immoral" purposes.[28][29][30][31]
May 31, 2018 Dinesh D'Souza United States District Court for the Southern District of New York September 23, 2014 Five years of probation, eight months of supervision in a halfway house, and a $30,000 fine Campaign finance violations In 2014, conservative commentator D'Souza pleaded guilty to making illegal campaign contributions to the 2012 Senate campaign of his Republican friend, Wendy Long.[32][33][34]
July 10, 2018
  • Dwight Lincoln Hammond, Jr.
  • Steven Dwight Hammond
United States District Court for the District of Oregon October 7, 2015 Five years in prison Arson Father and son were convicted of arson in 2012. While initially sentenced to time served, their sentence was increased in 2015 to the mandatory 5-year minimum term under federal law.[35] The increased sentence triggered protests which culminated in the armed occupation of a wildlife refuge.[36] The Hammonds had rejected the protesters' assistance.[36][37][38]
May 6, 2019 Michael Behenna General court martial, U.S. Army February 28, 2009 Twenty years in prison, forfeiture of pay, and dismissal from the Army Assault and unpremeditated murder Convicted of murder of an Iraqi man by a court-martial, Army First Lieutenant Behanna was released on parole in 2014.[39]
May 15, 2019 Conrad Black United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois December 10, 2007 42 months in prison, two years of supervised release, and $125,000 fine Mail fraud and attempted obstruction of justice Former media mogul, current friend, supporter and biographer of President Trump.[40] Conviction reviewed by the Supreme Court in Black v. United States; convictions later upheld. Released from prison in 2014 and deported to Canada where he was born.[41]
May 15, 2019 Pat Nolan United States District Court for the Eastern District of California February 18, 1994 33 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and $10,000 fine Racketeering Former Republican lawmaker who pled guilty to soliciting for illegal campaign donations after being caught by the Shrimpscam sting operation by the FBI. Ultimately served 26 months; released in 1996 and became an activist for criminal-justice reform.[42]
July 29, 2019 John Richard Bubala United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana April 5, 1991 Two years probation, conditioned upon four months community confinement and two months home confinement Conversion of government property Pleaded guilty to improper use of federal government property by transferring automotive equipment to the town of Milltown, Indiana, for its maintenance use. His primary aim was to help the town, and he sought neither compensation nor recognition for his actions.[43]
July 29, 2019 Roy Wayne McKeever United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma March 2, 1989 One year in prison and one year of supervised release Transporting marijuana After being arrested for transporting marijuana from Mexico to Oklahoma, he immediately accepted responsibility and plead guilty to one count of using a telephone to facilitate the distribution of a controlled substance.[43]
July 29, 2019 Rodney Masaru Takumi United States District Court for the District of Hawaii February 9, 1987 Two years of probation and fined $250 Working at an illegal gambling parlor While working, he was arrested during a law enforcement raid.[43]
July 29, 2019 Michael Anthony Tedesco United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania December 7, 1990 One year in prison and five years supervised release Fraud Former president Barack Obama pardoned him in 2017 for drug trafficking, but due to a clerical error, his fraud conviction was not encompassed within that grant of executive clemency.[43]
July 29, 2019 Chalmer Lee Williams United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky May 25, 1995 Four months in prison and three years of supervised release Conspiracy to steal firearms and other goods as part of an interstate shipment; theft from shipment in interstate commerce; theft of firearms shipped in interstate commerce Participated in and was convicted of several crimes related to the theft and sale of stolen firearms. Upon arrest, he immediately accepted responsibility for his actions. In light of his impeccable behavior while serving his sentence, his supervised release terminated one year early, and in 1998, the governor of Kentucky restored his voting rights.[43]
October 10, 2019 Zay Jeffries United States District Court for the Southern District of New York October 8, 1948 $2,500 fine Conspiracy to violate the Sherman Antitrust Act (Anti-competitive practices) Convicted under the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 regarding his engineering firm; his indictment in 1941 was deferred until 1947, due to his efforts during World War II.[44]
November 15, 2019 Mathew L. Golsteyn General court martial, U.S. Army N/A – Golsteyn's pardon was issued before his trial. N/A (not tried or convicted) Premeditated murder On December 13, 2018, Golsteyn, then serving as a major in the United States Army, was charged with the murder of a suspected bomb-maker in Afghanistan in 2010, following an interview in which he admitted to killing the man.[45] At the time of the pardon, Golsteyn's case had not yet gone to trial.[46]
November 15, 2019 Clint Lorance General court martial, U.S. Army August 1, 2013 Nineteen years in prison, forfeiture of pay, and dismissal from the Army Murder (two counts), attempted murder, communicating a threat (two counts), reckless endangerment, witness tampering, obstruction of justice As a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army, Lorance was convicted of murdering two Afghans; he ordered his troops to shoot unarmed villagers, then made false reports as part of a cover-up attempt. Lorance was turned in by his own men and convicted at court-martial.[46] His cause was later championed by conservative members of Congress and Fox News personalities.[47]
February 18, 2020 Edward J. DeBartolo Jr. United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana October 6, 1998 $250,000 dollar fine, two years of probation, payment of $350,000 restitution Misprision of felony DeBartolo, the former owner of the San Francisco 49ers, pleaded guilty in 1998 to concealing an extortion attempt; in 1997, he met former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards and gave him $400,000 in exchange for Edwards' help obtaining a license from the gaming board to allow Hollywood Casino Corp. (in which DeBartolo was an investor) to operate a riverboat casino.[48]
February 18, 2020 Michael Milken United States District Court for the Southern District of New York November 21, 1990 $200 million fine; two years of prison; three years' supervised release; 5,400 hours of community service Conspiracy; securities fraud; mail fraud; tax fraud; filing false reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC); assisting a brokerage firm in violating its net capital requirements In pardoning financier Milken, Trump cited his charitable work after his release from prison. Milken's separate, SEC-imposed lifetime ban on securities trading continues.[49]
February 18, 2020 Angela Stanton United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia May 24, 2007 Time served; three years' supervised release; six months' home confinement detention program Conspiracy to transport in interstate commerce a stolen motor vehicle and tampering with a vehicle identification number (VIN) (17 counts) Angela Stanton ran in the 2020 election as a Republican against Rep. John Lewis [50] and then to fill his seat after Lewis' death.
February 18, 2020 Ariel Friedler United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia August 8, 2014 Two months' imprisonment; one year supervised release; $274,197.60 restitution to Maxient LLC; $217,097.60 due and payable immediately; and $250,000 fine due and payable immediately Conspiracy to access a protected computer without authorization
February 18, 2020 David Hossein Safavian United States District Court for the District of Columbia October 27, 2006 72 months' imprisonment; two years' supervised release Obstruction of justice and perjury (three counts) Safavian is a Republican former lawyer and long-time associate of lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Through much of his career, he alternated between government roles and Washington lobbyist roles, in what is known as the "revolving door". He was serving as Administrator for Federal Procurement Policy, Office of Management and Budget, when he was arrested in connection with the Jack Abramoff Indian lobbying scandal.
February 18, 2020 Paul Pogue United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas August 30, 2010 Three years' probation; $250,000 fine; and $473,604.09 restitution Making and subscribing a false tax return Pogue, the founder and executive of McKinney, Texas-based construction company Pogue Construction, pleaded guilty in 2010 for under-reporting his taxable income in 2004, 2005 and 2006,[51] failing to pay more than $400,000 taxes owed.[52] In 2019, Pogue's son Ben Pogue and daughter-in-law Ashleigh Pogue gave a total of $238,541 to Trump Victory, a vehicle for Trump's reelection campaign.[52] Former Republican Senator Rick Santorum was a leading advocate for Pogue's pardon; Paul Pogue had been a contributor to Santorum's presidential election bid.[52][53]
February 18, 2020 Bernard Kerik United States District Court for the Southern District of New York May 18, 2010 48 months' imprisonment; 3 years' supervised release; $187,931 restitution Obstructing the administration of the Internal Revenue Laws; aiding in the preparation of a false income tax return; making false statements on a loan application; making false statements (five counts) Kerik, the former New York City Police Commissioner, has been a contributor to Fox News.[48]

Commutations[edit]

Trump has issued eleven commutations as of July 2020:

Date of Pardon Name Court Sentencing date Sentence Offense Notes
December 20, 2017 Sholom Rubashkin United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa June 22, 2010 27-year prison term, 5 years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $27 million Bank fraud The commutation does not vacate Rubashkin's conviction, and it leaves in place a term of supervised release and a substantial restitution obligation, which were also part of his sentence. Rubashkin was released 19 years earlier than planned.[54][55]
June 6, 2018 Alice Marie Johnson United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee March 21, 1997 Life sentence Conspiracy to possess cocaine, attempted possession of cocaine, money laundering Johnson was convicted in 1996 for her involvement in a Memphis cocaine trafficking organization and sentenced to life imprisonment.[56][57] Trump commuted Johnson's sentence following a meeting with Kim Kardashian; the commutation of the sentence caused Johnson's release from prison after more than 21 years.[58][59][60][61][62][63]
July 10, 2018
  • Dwight Lincoln Hammond, Jr.
  • Steven Dwight Hammond
United States District Court for the District of Oregon October 7, 2015 Five years in prison Arson In addition to the full pardon on the same day, Trump commuted the Hammonds' prison sentences to time served,[64] and ordered their immediate release.[65]
July 29, 2019 Ronen Nahmani United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida October 9, 2015 Twenty years in prison Conspiracy to distribute synthetic drugs Nahmani, an Israel-born Florida resident, was convicted in 2015 of conspiracy to distribute synthetic drugs acquired from China, and was sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment.[66][67] Hakeem Jeffries, Mark Meadows, and Alan Dershowitz supported Nahmani's request for a pardon.[67] In pardoning Nahmani, the Trump White House cited his lack of a previous criminal history, his five young children, and the terminal illness of his wife.[67][43]
July 29, 2019 Ted Suhl United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas October 27, 2016 Seven years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $200,000 fine Bribery Suhl formerly operated faith-based behavioral healthcare treatment centers for juveniles in Arkansas, including a residential center called Lord's Ranch (later renamed Trinity Behavioral Health) and several outpatient centers.[68] He was convicted in 2016 on four counts of bribery[43] in connection with a scheme from 2007 to 2011 to increase Medicaid payments to his company through payments made a state Arkansas Department of Human Services official (an ex-state legislator) via an intermediary.[68] Both the official and the intermediary were also prosecuted and sentenced to federal prison.[68] In a statement, the White House said that Trump's decision to commute the sentence was influenced by support from former Arkasnas Governor Mike Huckabee and former U.S. Attorney Bud Cummins.[68][43]
February 18, 2020 Rod Blagojevich United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois December 7, 2011 Fourteen years in prison; two years supervised release; $20,000 fine wire fraud (10 counts); conspiracy/attempted extortion (four counts); corrupt solicitation of funds; conspiracy to corruptly solicit funds (two counts); making false statements Former Governor of Illinois and contestant on Trump's reality TV show, The Celebrity Apprentice.[48] Convicted of attempting to sell the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama, plus extortion by withholding state funds being directed towards a children's hospital and a race track.[69] The Illinois House impeached him for abuse of power and corruption. In two separate and unanimous votes of the Illinois Senate, he was removed from office and prohibited from ever holding public office in the state of Illinois again.[70] See also Rod Blagojevich corruption charges.[48]
February 18, 2020 Judith Negron United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida December 8, 2011 35 years imprisonment (as amended); three years supervised release; and $87,533,863.46 restitution Conspiracy to commit health care fraud; health care fraud (two counts); conspiracy to defraud the United States and to receive and pay health care kickbacks; conspiracy to commit money laundering; money laundering (16 counts); structuring to avoid reporting requirements (three counts) Reduced the prison sentence to the roughly eight years already served; Left intact the supervised release and order to pay $87.5 million restitution.[71]
February 18, 2020 Crystal Munoz United States District Court for the Western District of Texas January 24, 2008 15 years, 8 months imprisonment; 5 years' supervised release Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 1,000 or more kilograms of marijuana
February 18, 2020 Tynice Nichole Hall United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas July 28, 2006 20 years, 8 months imprisonment; 5 years' supervised release Conspiracy to distribute, possess with intent to distribute, and manufacture more than 50 grams of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine base (crack cocaine) and aiding and abetting; possession with intent to distribute cocaine base and aiding and abetting; possession of cocaine with intent to manufacture cocaine base and aiding and abetting; receipt of firearms by a person under felony indictment and aiding and abetting; possession of firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes and aiding and abetting
July 10, 2020 Roger Stone United States District Court for the District of Columbia February 20, 2020 40 months imprisonment Making false statements to Congress (five counts)
Witness tampering
Obstructing an official proceeding
Stone is a friend and adviser of Trump, who was a member of Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. In November 2019, Stone was convicted by a jury on all seven charges that he faced, in relation to his actions during the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections. The sentencing judge stated that Stone had been "prosecuted for covering up for the president" - Trump himself. In June 2020, around a month before the commutation, Trump had declared that Stone "can sleep well at night!" At the time of the commutation, Stone had been scheduled to report to federal prison around a week later.[72][73][74]

Responses[edit]

In October 2019, the New York enacted the TRUST Act, which was signed into law by Andrew Cuomo. Among other things, the act closed a double jeopardy provision of state law to allow state prosecutors to pursue charges for violations of New York law against individuals pardoned by the president for a violation of federal law. The New York legislation was aimed at Trump's use of the pardon power.[75] New York State Attorney General Letitia James, proposed the law after multiple former Trump associates were investigated in New York state; James' office has investigating the finances of Trump and The Trump Organization.[75] Upon passage of the law, James said that "We have a responsibility to ensure that individuals who commit crimes under New York state law are held accountable for those crimes. This critical new law closes a gaping loophole that could have allowed any president to abuse the presidential pardon power by unfairly granting a pardon to a family member or close associate and possibly allow that individual to evade justice altogether."[75]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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