Trump’s last day is the day of forgiveness. The United States outgoing president will sign at least one hundred clemency acts between one box and another. Donald Trump is in the White House for another 24 hours. A shower of indulgences granted precisely by those who have also dusted off the death penalty, sending 13 convicts to death in six months.
With his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner’s help, Mr president completed the beneficiaries list Sunday. To enjoy the pardons and commutations of sentences will be largely lobbyists, political allies, and the famous rapper Lil Wayne. He risks ten years for illegal weapons possession. Together with many responsible for financial crimes: such as the well-known eye doctor of Palm Beach Salomon Melgen.
The name of Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, would have been purged. While there may have ended up last minute, the names of Rudy Giuliani and that of his friend Steve Bannon, accused of stealing funds for the construction of the wall on the border with Mexico, were among the firsts. We still do not know if the name of Trump and his children will also be on the list. The councillors have repeatedly advised him against forgiving himself and his family: the act, with uncertain legal boundaries, would be equivalent to admitting to having committed crimes. Capitol Hill attackers shouldn’t be on the list either.
Granting pardon is a constitutional power of the president, widely used in the past as well. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, for example, granted a whopping 2,819 and commuted 418 sentences. Also, Barack Obama – who on his penultimate day pardoned Chelsea Manning, sentenced to 35 years for having passed confidential documents to WikiLeaks – in 8 years, he queued 212: commuting 1715 sentences. But Obama and the other presidents before him have always tried to use that power to correct judicial or health errors. While the 68 graces granted by Trump in these four years mainly concern friends and political allies: from the anti-immigrant sheriff of Arizona Joe Arpaio to the tax evader Charles Kushner.
To get to the recent pardons granted in December to former general Michael Flynn, former councillor Roger Stone and former manager of the first election campaign Paul Manafort, all involved in Russiagate. Unlike his predecessors, Trump nevertheless never used the institutional channel of the Department of Justice.
The requests for pardon have always gone through his trusted men: his son-in-law Jared, the chief of staff Mark Meadows, and the legal adviser Pat Cipollone. The system, denounces the New York Times, has led to a real market for indulgences. Shameless collaborators such as former prosecutor Brett Tolman and attorney John M. Dowd have taken advantage of it. They can get paid thousands of US dollars to get the instances on the president’s table in the White House. A system that would have determined, in the last few weeks only, the acceptance of 41 requests for forgiveness, literally paid in gold.