President TrumpDonald John TrumpNapolitano claims Trump violated separation of powers 3 times in last week Work on surprise medical bills goes into overdrive Trump pardons media tycoon, former GOP leader of California State Assembly MORE has drawn criticism for issuing a string of pardons and commutations since taking office, an executive power traditionally used near the end of a presidency.
Critics argue that Trump is abusing his powers in order to settle political scores and reward staunch allies. The White House counters that it’s correcting perceived injustices.
Here are the 12 people Trump has pardoned or offered reduced sentences to since becoming president.
Trump’s first pardon was for former Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio before the controversial figure served any jail time.
Arpaio was convicted in July 2017 of criminal contempt for disobeying a federal judge’s order on detaining individuals suspected of being in the U.S. illegally. Trump announced the pardon in August 2017, less than a month later, after hinting he would do so during a campaign rally in Arizona.
In announcing the pardon, the White House praised Arpaio’s work “protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration.”
Trump’s decision received blowback from Democrats and civil rights groups who argued that the pardon gave cover to allegations Arpaio had racially profiled Latinos. It also raised questions about the politicization of the process, as Arpaio was an early supporter of Trump’s 2016 candidacy.
The president’s first commuted sentence was for Sholom Rubashkin, the former CEO of an Iowa kosher meat-processing plant who was serving a 27-year sentence for numerous financial crimes.
Rubashkin had served eight years of his sentence when Trump announced the commutation in December 2017.
Several members of Congress, as well as four attorneys general, had reached out to the White House to urge Trump to commute Rubashkin’s sentence. Advocates noted he was a first-time, nonviolent offender.
Kristian Mark Saucier
Trump pardoned Saucier in March 2018 after the former Navy sailor served jail time for mishandling classified information by taking pictures onboard a nuclear submarine.
His attorneys cited former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonFrustrated GOP senators want answers from Trump on Iran Progressive group targets Susan Collins over Trump judicial pick Poll: Biden leads Trump by double digits in Pennsylvania MORE’s mishandling of classified information as part of Saucier’s defense. Trump invoked Saucier’s case during the 2016 campaign and after taking office.
After a May 2016 guilty plea followed by incarceration, Saucier was released in September 2017, about six months before Trump pardoned him.
Days before the announcement, Saucier appeared on “Fox & Friends” to make his case. The president is known to watch the Fox News morning show.
Lewis “Scooter” Libby
Libby, who was chief of staff to former Vice President Dick Cheney, was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in the probe into the disclosure of the identity of former covert CIA officer Valerie Plame, who is now running for Congress in New Mexico.
Former President George W. Bush commuted Libby’s prison sentence but never offered him a full pardon.
Trump’s April 2018 pardon raised alarms among Democrats and ethics watchdog groups, as it came in the midst of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s probe into Russia’s interference in the presidential election, which ended about a year later.
Democrats suggested Trump was attempting to send a message that he would take care of allies at the end of the investigation, which did not establish that Trump conspired with the Russian government and did not determine whether the president obstructed justice.
The posthumous pardon of heavyweight boxer Jack Johnson was one of Trump’s less-controversial decisions.
Johnson, the first black heavyweight champion of the world, was convicted by an all-white jury in 1913 for transporting a woman across state lines for “immoral purposes,” which was illegal under the Mann Act. Johnson served a year in prison and was released in 1921. He died in 1946.
Trump announced the pardon in May 2018, when he was joined by actor Sylvester Stallone and previous heavyweight champions.
Conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza, who has written books targeting Clinton and former President Obama, received a pardon last summer after he pleaded guilty in 2014 to making illegal campaign contributions.
D’Souza’s case was a cause célèbre for many on the right. Trump insisted that he’d never met D’Souza but that he’d heard about his case in the media.
The conservative commentator, who was on a five-year probation, has railed against the Obama administration, both before and after receiving the pardon. Like Trump, D’Souza spread the unfounded conspiracy that Obama was not born in the United States. Obama was born in Hawaii.
Alice Marie Johnson
Alice Marie Johnson, a 62-year-old great-grandmother, had her life sentence commuted after Kim Kardashian WestKimberly (Kim) Noel Kardashian WestKim Kardashian is the hero that criminal justice reform needs Megyn Kelly to sit down with Kardashians for first NBC interview NRA on Kim Kardashian robbery: ‘How is that possible?’ MORE raised her case with the president.
Johnson had been convicted on nonviolent drug and money laundering charges and served her sentence in an Alabama prison. Her release went viral as she thanked Trump and Kardashian West, wife of vocal Trump supporter Kanye WestKanye Omari WestKanye West has renounced politics but damage is ‘already done,’ says former MSNBC host Kim Kardashian poll has more votes than Iowa caucuses Hillary: I ‘desperately’ want a phone like Kim Kardashian’s for selfies MORE.
Johnson later emerged as a key figure in Trump’s push to enact criminal justice reform. She attended the State of the Union and a celebration of the passage of the First Step Act, which reduces mandatory minimum sentences in certain instances and provides additional resources for inmates.
Dwight and Steven Hammond
Trump pardoned Dwight Hammond and his son Steve, two Oregon ranchers who were at the center of a standoff with the federal government over land ownership, in July 2018.
Their conviction for arson led to a 40-day armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016. The Hammonds distanced themselves from the ensuing violence.
In announcing the pardon, White House press secretary Sarah HuckabeeSarah Elizabeth SandersLive coverage: House panel moves forward with Barr contempt vote Mueller’s facts vs Trump’s spin Trump says he was called ‘the greatest hostage negotiator this country has ever had’ MORE Sanders called the pair’s five-year prison sentences “unjust.” Conservation groups argued the administration was defending violent extremists.
Trump this month pardoned an ex-Army first lieutenant accused of murdering Ali Mansur Mohamed, an unarmed Iraqi man, during an interrogation in 2008.
Behenna, who hails from Oklahoma, was sentenced in 2009 to 15 years in prison, and later paroled in 2014. In pardoning Behenna, Trump cited support from Oklahoma’s attorney general and top military brass.
The pardon drew criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union, which said it amounted to an endorsement of war crimes.
Trump this month also pardoned Conrad Black, a billionaire media mogul convicted in 2007 on charges related to embezzlement and obstruction of justice. In a statement, the White House said Black was “entirely deserving” of his pardon, pointing to high-profile figures who have vouched for his character, including Henry Kissinger and Elton John.
Black has been a vocal supporter of Trump, writing columns touting the administration and authoring a book called “Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other.” He also at one time was involved in a plan to build a Trump Tower in Chicago.
“The idea that I would commit a crime is a nonsense,” Black reportedly told the BBC following his pardon, adding that he was “rebuilding my fortune, life goes on, this is a great occasion.”
Trump pardoned Nolan, the former Republican leader of the California State Assembly, on the same day he pardoned Black.
While serving as a state legislator, Nolan was charged with accepting illegal campaign donations after being caught in an FBI sting operation. He pleaded guilty, resigned his seat and served 25 months in prison. The White House called Nolan’s decision to plead guilty a “difficult” one he made in order to help his family.
Now an advocate for prisoner rights, Nolan played a key role in helping White House senior adviser and Trump son-in-law Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerTrump to launch uphill bid to overhaul immigration laws Graham unveils bill to overhaul asylum laws GOP officials unsatisfied with some answers from Kushner during immigration meeting: report MORE push through a criminal justice reform bill last year. According to The Washington Post, Nolan appeared alongside Kushner during a White House ceremony celebrating the passage of the legislation.
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