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 5:43 PM
Updated: Jun 6, 2018 5:43 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."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 143879

Reported Deaths: 3676
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto952799
Hinds9520193
Harrison6801105
Jackson6043116
Rankin521996
Lee477094
Madison4595102
Forrest360685
Jones341687
Lauderdale3340142
Lafayette312047
Washington3043106
Lamar273849
Bolivar237583
Oktibbeha237460
Lowndes227562
Neshoba2170113
Panola210347
Marshall206547
Leflore200389
Pontotoc192527
Monroe188877
Sunflower188754
Lincoln183664
Warren171757
Tate163049
Pike159958
Union159025
Copiah158840
Yazoo149538
Scott149429
Coahoma146742
Itawamba144433
Simpson143153
Alcorn142724
Pearl River142067
Prentiss138426
Grenada135844
Adams134148
Leake131643
Holmes124261
George121523
Tippah120430
Covington116434
Winston115824
Wayne115522
Hancock113337
Marion109046
Attala106133
Tishomingo105542
Newton102829
Chickasaw102132
Tallahatchie94727
Clarke88153
Clay86226
Jasper80421
Walthall73728
Montgomery71925
Calhoun71213
Stone71014
Carroll70114
Lawrence69814
Noxubee68917
Smith68616
Yalobusha67626
Perry63925
Tunica59519
Greene58222
Claiborne57416
Jefferson Davis53817
Humphreys52318
Amite50714
Benton48217
Quitman4766
Webster41614
Kemper40615
Wilkinson38422
Jefferson33511
Franklin3155
Sharkey30617
Choctaw3057
Issaquena1094
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 232506

Reported Deaths: 3457
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson30318491
Mobile19260356
Tuscaloosa12446148
Madison12204146
Montgomery12000232
Shelby971276
Baldwin819984
Lee750464
Morgan610447
Calhoun5964113
Etowah585764
Marshall579453
Houston503338
DeKalb460835
Cullman409636
Limestone400844
St. Clair396055
Elmore391061
Lauderdale378353
Walker348096
Talladega334042
Colbert294341
Jackson290524
Blount275436
Autauga261739
Franklin243633
Coffee230315
Dale225454
Dallas219631
Russell21753
Chilton216137
Covington212333
Escambia194031
Tallapoosa168590
Chambers167548
Clarke154919
Pike154714
Marion133935
Winston122523
Lawrence121436
Geneva11678
Marengo116424
Barbour116010
Pickens114118
Bibb113617
Butler113341
Randolph99521
Cherokee98524
Hale91531
Washington89818
Clay88823
Henry8386
Fayette83116
Lowndes78529
Monroe76811
Cleburne74214
Crenshaw70030
Macon69420
Bullock68919
Conecuh66814
Perry6686
Wilcox62318
Lamar6227
Sumter55322
Choctaw41713
Greene39917
Coosa3064
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