Donald Trump’s pardon recipients are now eagerly supporting his re-election with donations and endorsements
Dozens of accused or convicted criminals who were pardoned or given reduced sentences by Donald Trump are now backing his bid for a second term, a new report shows.
An analysis of the Washingtonpost found that at least 24 of those who received clemency from Trump are now supporting his campaign with donations or public appearances on his behalf.
During his term, Trump signed 238 clemency orders. That's a relatively low number compared to most modern presidents, although Trump has been criticized for directing clemency toward people in his personal or political circle.
Furthermore, Trump often bypassed the Justice Department's previously standard screening and review processes, instead granting pardons to allies or convicts whose cases were championed by celebrities.
Now, many of his most high-profile clemency recipients are returning the favor, including former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, rapper Lil Wayne and former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the Post learned.
Dozens of accused or convicted criminals who received executive pardons or reduced sentences from Donald Trump are now backing his bid for a second term
Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich (left) and rapper Lil Wayne (right) are two clemency recipients who are now vocally supporting Trump's campaign
Blagojevich, a lifelong Democrat convicted of government corruption, now calls himself a die-hard “Trumpocrat” and defends Trump in media interviews.
Lil Wayne, born Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., was facing a federal firearms charge when Trump pardoned him as one of his last acts in office. The rapper responded by endorsing Trump in his lyrics.
Arpaio, convicted of disobeying a judge's order to stop profiling Hispanics, was one of Trump's first pardons and is now an outspoken Trump supporter while also campaigning for mayor of Fountain Hills, Arizona.
Other Trump pardon recipients have donated to his campaign, boosted him in media interviews, and one even works for his campaign, the Post found.
Some of the pardon recipients were close allies of Trump long before the pardons, including Mike Flynn, Paul Manafort, Steve Bannon and Roger Stone.
Several clemency recipients told the Post they would support Trump now regardless of whether he intervened on their behalf, including Arpaio, who said, “He reflects what I believe in.”
Trump himself has touted the power of the presidential pardon as “a beautiful thing” and has suggested he will pardon many of his supporters charged in the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol insurrection.
Former NYPD Commissioner Bernie Kerik and author Angela Stanton have both endorsed Trump after receiving pardons
Adrianne Davis Miller met Trump at a campaign event after commuting her prison sentence for drug crimes on his last day in office
Overall, Trump has granted fewer than 2 percent of clemency requests filed during his term, a rate lower than any president since 1900 except George W. Bush, according to Pew research.
But his concentration of pardons on allies drew ire from critics, similar to the backlash Bill Clinton received for his infamous pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich, whose ex-wife had made substantial donations to Clinton's presidential library.
After the Clinton pardon scandal, George W. Bush used the pardon sparingly, issuing only two hundred pardons.
One that drew fire was his commutation of the sentence of former Dick Cheney aide Scooter Libby for his role in the Valerie Plame CIA leak scandal. But he resisted pressure from his vice president to issue a full pardon.
It would be Trump who would grant a full pardon to Libby in 2018, at a time when the Robert Mueller investigation was in full swing.
Barack Obama dramatically increased pardons, to 1,927, but still granted only 5 percent of requests, amid a huge spike in clemency requests during his term.
However, Obama refrained from pardoning people close to him, although there was some controversy over the commutation of Chelsea Manning's sentence after a major security breach.
Obama commuted the sentence to seven years, citing international concerns about her being held in solitary confinement for extended periods.