Exclusive: Trump considers dozens of new pardons

The White House has assembled the paperwork to pardon dozens of people, two sources with knowledge of the development...

Posted: Jun 6, 2018 6:43 PM
Updated: Jun 6, 2018 6:43 PM

The White House has assembled the paperwork to pardon dozens of people, two sources with knowledge of the developments tell CNN, signaling that President Donald Trump is poised to exert his constitutional power and intervene, in some instances, where he believes the Justice Department has overstepped.

The administration has prepared the pardoning paperwork for at least 30 people, the sources tell CNN. The President signed paperwork for one of those individuals on Wednesday: 63-year-old Alice Marie Johnson, whose life sentence was commuted by the President, according to two sources. Johnson was sentenced in 1996 on charges related to cocaine possession and money laundering.

Kim Kardashian West met with Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner in the Oval Office last week in an attempt to convince him to pardon her. Trump has not yet decided whether he will move forward with either a pardon or commutation for Johnson.

While Trump has expressed interest in recent days in doing so, his chief of staff, John Kelly, has advocated against it, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

One source familiar with the situation said Kushner has advocated for the Johnson pardon because it will help draw attention to the need for prison reform and what he views as unjust prison sentences.

The White House counsel's office is also currently reviewing potential clemency for a handful of individuals with cases similar to Johnson's who are neither celebrities nor political allies of the White House, the source said.

The Washington Post first reported that the White House had prepared the paperwork to pardon Johnson.

Last week, the President pardoned conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza and told reporters he was considering pardoning Martha Stewart and commuting the sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. He raised eyebrows on Monday when he stated his belief that he had the "absolute right" to pardon himself, but said he wouldn't do so because he had "done nothing wrong."

In light of his recent pardoning spree, several of the President's outside friends and allies have begun advocating for people they believe should also be forgiven.

Though past presidents have typically waited until the end of their term to pardon controversial figures, Trump has pardoned five people during his 17 months in office. Most are unexpected or benefit political supporters. In addition to D'Souza, who pleaded guilty to violating federal campaign finance laws in 2014, he has granted forgiveness to former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, Dick Cheney's former chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, former Navy sailor Kristian Saucier and the first black heavyweight boxing champion, Jack Johnson, thus far.

Who Trump pardons has oftentimes come as a jolt to his own staff, and on some occasions, the person being pardoned.

"I have never met President Trump in my life," D'Souza told CNN Tuesday. "I have spoken to him once before on the telephone, but I have never met him. The time I talked to him about my pardon was only the second time I've spoken to him, ever."

When ABC News reported in April that the President was poised to pardon Libby, it was not just a surprise to his friends and family, but him as well, according to a source familiar with the pardon. Bill Jeffress, his primary trial lawyer, said he learned about the pardon from media reports.

Trump has not followed the typical procedure for granting pardons, often choosing instead to bypass the Justice Department's Office of the Pardon Attorney while wielding his constitutional power.

The office recently informed 180 petitioners that they would not be granted clemency at this time, a White House official confirmed to CNN, but the administration has said it will continue to review pardons and make decisions on a rolling basis. There are currently 2,108 petitions for pardons, according to the Office of the Pardon Attorney.

The office had made clear in its guidelines that a pardon does not establish innocence.

"A presidential pardon is ordinarily a sign of forgiveness. A pardon is not a sign of vindication and does not connote or establish innocence. For that reason, when considering the merits of a pardon petition, pardon officials take into account the petitioner's acceptance of responsibility, remorse and atonement for the offense," according to the written instructions.

Critics have raised the question of whether Trump is sending a signal to his-former allies and aides who are facing criminal charges in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation with his robust use of his pardoning power.

But when he was asked in April-whether he would consider a pardon for Michael Cohen, his longtime lawyer who is now-under federal investigation for possible bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations, Trump snapped a two-word response: "Stupid question."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1490496

Reported Deaths: 20500
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion2039162521
Lake1001941500
Allen923541011
Hamilton72207547
St. Joseph64053755
Elkhart48903625
Vanderburgh47506523
Tippecanoe43182336
Johnson37906521
Hendricks35984459
Porter34277466
Madison28722537
Clark25552325
Vigo25251344
LaPorte23269307
Monroe22751244
Howard21818377
Delaware21391366
Hancock18487220
Bartholomew17860213
Kosciusko17769201
Warrick16642213
Wayne16062300
Floyd15640257
Grant15143296
Morgan14245231
Boone13388136
Noble11656140
Dearborn11560112
Henry11546201
Shelby11483150
Marshall11258167
Dubois11123152
Jackson10425104
Cass10121142
DeKalb10101129
Lawrence10082220
Huntington10016139
Gibson9415125
Montgomery9153141
Knox8942124
Harrison8874112
Whitley861871
Steuben8488104
Jasper8192114
Clinton810295
Putnam806199
Miami8032133
Jefferson7773124
Wabash7726139
Ripley7118112
Adams6595101
Daviess6455127
Scott638586
White613282
Greene5999112
Clay597573
Wells5902120
Decatur5885119
Jennings586278
Fayette5735121
Posey543448
LaGrange524197
Randolph5027129
Washington494368
Owen491499
Fountain472479
Spencer446556
Starke438686
Sullivan437465
Fulton431891
Orange420882
Jay409764
Rush403937
Carroll377549
Perry376755
Franklin375850
Vermillion352062
Parke319238
Pike316245
Tipton313774
Blackford271755
Pulaski270874
Newton231561
Brown226754
Benton215721
Crawford215131
Switzerland194214
Martin186722
Warren174821
Union165519
Ohio122616
Unassigned0739

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2439205

Reported Deaths: 31245
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin2637212065
Cuyahoga2582743018
Hamilton1696091714
Montgomery1126771604
Summit1074271391
Lucas909371160
Butler80397942
Stark754911400
Lorain63313792
Warren51040475
Mahoning50162915
Lake47051605
Clermont44631429
Delaware39611212
Trumbull38910755
Medina37850419
Licking37593408
Fairfield34482334
Greene32823422
Portage31698360
Clark30769445
Richland28751423
Wood28217297
Allen24942395
Miami23274395
Muskingum22683245
Columbiana22370403
Wayne21565356
Tuscarawas19096427
Erie18282222
Ashtabula18102342
Marion17861232
Scioto17031207
Ross16556252
Pickaway15812178
Hancock15561228
Geauga15320223
Lawrence14172186
Union1359984
Huron13584182
Belmont13554247
Jefferson13090258
Sandusky12933199
Athens12126106
Knox11721198
Seneca11631200
Darke10950198
Ashland10916178
Washington10729168
Auglaize10364142
Crawford10062175
Shelby9961157
Brown9610140
Fulton9453150
Guernsey9304117
Highland9215148
Defiance9209135
Logan9114142
Clinton8950127
Mercer8816111
Madison8730106
Preble8145162
Williams8014135
Putnam7863135
Ottawa7752121
Champaign7696112
Jackson7510117
Perry725998
Coshocton7137136
Morrow706382
Fayette678287
Pike632586
Hardin6311128
Gallia605891
Adams5913124
Van Wert5877121
Henry577093
Hocking5634104
Carroll4877100
Wyandot487590
Holmes4787161
Paulding409064
Meigs380473
Monroe303368
Noble285051
Harrison284461
Morgan280348
Vinton245145
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