WASHINGTON – Not just Michael T. Flynn. The White House is considering Trump’s wave of grace and commutation in its last weeks of office, which has caused a goodwill from pardon seekers and their representatives, including Mr. Trump’s other allies.
Among those hoping for mercy are two former Trump campaign advisers, Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos, who, like Mr Flynn, a former national security adviser who is said to be queuing for Trump’s mercy, have been convicted of cases from the Special Adviser’s investigation in Russia.
Alan Dershowitz, the law professor who represented Trump in his indictment trial, is considering the pardon of his two clients – a New Jersey man who has served more than 20 years for investor fraud and a billionaire businessman called North Carolina’s most serious government corruption scandals. “
Dershowitz said he recently discussed the pardon process with the White House.
But it’s not just the well-connected and the rich who can benefit from one of Trump’s executive power practices, lawyers associated with the administration said.
Several groups advocating for a review of criminal justice are working with an ad hoc White House team led by Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, with the aim of proclaiming up to hundreds of commutations for the perpetrators. he is now in prison for crimes ranging from nonviolent drug convictions to postal fraud and money laundering.
“They’re spreading a list of people,” said Brandon Sample, a Vermont lawyer who specializes in presidential pardons and has raised several names. Among them is Russell Bradley Marks, 57, who was imprisoned after pleading guilty in 1992 to a cocaine offense for which he was sentenced to life imprisonment.
The end of every presidential administration is a time of intense lobbying for grace.
In the case of Mr De Trump, this includes his own personal and political considerations, his protracted bitterness over the investigation in Russia, and the transactional approach to governance.
The plethora of people in the presidency who got into trouble with the law also burdened the issue of grace in particular. In addition to Mr. Flynn, Gates and Papadopoulos, the convicted Trump’s assistants and staff include Michael D. Cohen, Trump’s former attorney; Roger J. Stone Jr., old friend and counselor; and Paul Manafort, former campaign president.
Among the president facing federal charges are Stephen K. Bannon, a former strategist accused in August of cheating on donations to a campaign that supported Mr. Trump’s plans to build a wall along the Mexican border, and Elliott. Broidy, the top fundraiser, pleaded guilty last month to a foreign lobbying case.
Lawyers say the White House is also focusing on ways to use presidential pardon powers to further insult Trump’s role in what is considered the most consistent criminal justice law of a generation and which has reduced punishment for violent perpetrators.
The late pardons or commutations of federal crimes, over which presidents have uncontrolled power, are seen by some criminal justice reform activists as being able to set a record on this issue.
Politically, the possibility of pardons or commutations for allies, staff, or even himself is much more explosive, reflecting Mr. Trump’s often-expressed belief that his presidency is being undermined by law enforcement investigations, including special counsel investigations.
On Tuesday, the news that Mr. Trump intends to grant pardon to Mr. Flynn has given new attention to the president’s intentions.
Mr Flynn sought to dismiss the case against him after the Ministry of Justice launched charges against him, despite Mr Flynn pleading guilty twice to lying to investigators investigating contact with the Russian ambassador to Mr Trump’s office. entered.
But since this case was settled in court and it now looks like it could drag on during Mr Trump’s tenure, the president told the aides that he was moving forward with grace intent, and that decision would give sure hope to other staff seeking mercy.
“The president knows how much we have suffered from those of us who have worked for him, and I hope he will take that into account if and when he gives grace,” said Mr. Gates, who was previously Trump’s vice president of campaign in 2016. in committing a financial crime and lying to investigators, and as a witness to his team of special advisers.
White House spokesman Judd Deere declined to comment.
So far, Mr. Trump has given 28 pardons that will abolish convictions and 16 commutations that will reduce prison sentences. According to an analysis by the Pew Research Center, the cumulative total is the lowest ever for all presidents, at least since William McKinley, who took office in 1897.
During his eight years in office, President Barack Obama issued 212 pardons and 1,715 commutations, most of which were given to low-ranking convicts who had long prison sentences for violent crimes.
Many of Mr. Trump’s actions favored individuals who had a personal or political relationship with Mr. Trump.
Among them is Mr. Stone, who has been charged with special councilor charges, conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza and former Wall Street executive Michael Milken, whose pardon was backed by Finance Minister Steven Mnuchin.
Mr. Trump thought he had pardoned Mr. Manafort, who had been sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for obstructing justice and violating financial and lobbying laws, at the highest level of cases brought by a special counsel.
There are open speculations as to whether he can proceed to use his power of grace for his own purposes, possibly grant preventive grace to his family members and even himself for federal crimes.
Even if such self-forgiveness were possible – scholars differ on legality – it would not vaccinate Trump against possible allegations stemming from ongoing investigations into business and financial matters by New York City and state prosecutors.
The planned pardon initiative and the lobbying surrounding it in recent weeks has been hampered in some respects by Mr. Trump’s refusal to formally acknowledge his loss to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Potential pardons and their representatives said in interviews that they were waiting for their appeal to be extended until Mr Trump agreed, or at least indicated that he had begun to cope with the impending end of his presidency. Before, they sought mercy, warned those involved, they risked a risk of relapse because it could be seen as recognition of a defeat that Mr Trump has so far refused to accept.
“As long as it’s being fought and there are court cases and the Electoral College hasn’t voted, it seems premature,” said Bud Cummins, a former U.S. lawyer who was recognized by the White House for helping persuade Mr Trump to commute one year’s sentence. his client, a politically connected Arkansas businessman who was convicted of bribery related to Medicaid fraud.
Mr. Cummins, who was enrolled in lobbying this year at a company founded by two Trump campaign helpers, said “a lot of people” approached him who asked him for help to get pardon from Mr. Trump. He refused to identify them.
Other potential pardons and their allies are discussing a number of strategies to win the president. These include highlighting donations to Mr. Trump, spending money on real estate, hiring attorneys or lobbyists close to him, and emphasizing business relationships that can help Mr. Trump after leaving office.
Some reciprocate a topic that resonated with Mr. Trump – complaints of unfair treatment in the hands of prosecutors and investigators.
Mr. Gates, who was sentenced to 45 days in prison after working with investigators, released a book last month accusing his special counsel team of committing Mr. Trump and his allies with cunning, strong-armed tactics. Mr. Gates acknowledged that his criticism of the investigation could potentially help in grace, but added that “my motivation in writing the book was not to ask for mercy; it was to find out the truth about the Russian investigation.
Mr. Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and served 12 days in prison, was also very public in Trump’s arms. Published at the Trump National Doral Resort in Florida last month to a conference of conservative activists, where he promoted his book, “Deep State Purpose: How I Was Captivated in the Crusades of the Plot to Bring President Trump Down”.
In an interview, he said his support for Mr. Trump was not inspired by the pursuit of grace, adding that he did not expect to receive it, but still hoped it would happen.
“Of course, it is an honor for me to receive grace,” Mr. Papadopoulos said.
Others are looking for creative ways to build relationships with the president, including Joseph Maldonado-Passage, a former Oklahoma zoo owner better known as Joe Exotic. Its MPs ran a carefully coordinated campaign to try to persuade Mr Trump to pardon Mr Maldonado-Passage, who is sentenced to one year and 22 years in prison for wanting to hire an offender to kill an animal protection activist.
They focused on drawing Trump’s attention through calls to Donald Trump Jr. and Mr. Kushner, appearing in Fox News, and visiting the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., where one of the organizers said they ran up a $ 10,000 page trying to call Mr. Trump. attention.
Dershowitz helped clients receive grace from Mr. Trump in 2017 and 2019. He is appealing for pardon on behalf of North Carolina businessman Greg E. Lindberg, who was sentenced in August to more than seven years in prison for the bribery regime that shook the state’s Republican Party, and Eliyahu Weinstein, a New Jersey man sentenced to more than 20 years in prison for a property due to Ponzi scheme.
Dershowitz said he did not turn to Trump on any of the cases, although he had recently spoken to the White House about how the pardon procedure would work. And he recalled an earlier conversation in which he shared his general idea of the importance of grace with Mr. Trump.
The president, Mr Dershowitz, said he was “very interested that the power of grace is not just a matter of grace, but part of a braking system of excessive legislative or judicial action.”
Following the enactment of the First Step Act in 2018, efforts began last year to develop the White House administration program separate from the Office of the Department of Justice, which expanded the early release program and amended penal laws, including mandatory for violent drug offenders. minimum penalty.
There are at least 13,700 people who have officially appealed to the Department of Justice for pardon, which is recorded as “pending”.
Representatives of inmates requesting a sentence were sent separately to the White House’s roster, typically focusing on people who received unusually long sentences for nonviolent crimes after refusing to accept an indictment and others who serve long sentences for mandatory directives.
“All of these are sad, sad situations,” said Norman Reimer, executive director of the National Association of Criminal Lawyers. “They show tremendous injustice and punishment, and we hope you will act on them.”