President Donald Trump speaks near a section of the U.S.-Mexico border wall, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021, in Alamo, Texas. (Delcia Lopez/The Monitor via AP)

President Donald Trump speaks near a section of the U.S.-Mexico border wall, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021, in Alamo, Texas. (Delcia Lopez/The Monitor via AP)

Trump expected to issue flurry of pardons on last full day

President Donald Trump has refused to take part in any of the symbolic passing-of-the-torch traditions

President Donald Trump was expected to spend his last full day in office issuing a flurry of pardons and bidding farewell to the American public from a near-deserted White House and surrounded by an extraordinary security presence outside.

In one of his final acts as president, Trump was expected to grant clemency to as many as 100 people, according to two people briefed on the plans. The list of pardons and commutations is expected to include names unfamiliar to the American public — regular people who have spent years languishing in prison — as well as politically-connected friends and allies like those he’s pardoned in the past.

Trump also has been using his final days in office to issue steady a stream of executive orders as he tries to lock in initiatives that President-elect Joe Biden is likely to ignore. Trump has also recorded a video offering a final message to the American people before a farewell event at nearby Joint Base Andrews on Wednesday morning.

Once there, he will board Air Force One for a final time, flying to Florida and becoming the first outgoing president in more than a century to skip the inauguration of his successor. Aides had urged Trump to spend his final days in office participating in a series of legacy-burnishing events — speeches highlighting his administration’s efforts to lower taxes, scale back federal regulations and normalize relations in the Middle East.

But Trump, who remains consumed with anger and grievance over his election loss, refused and has not been seen in public since last week, when he travelled to Texas for one last photo opportunity at the border wall he pushed so adamantly throughout his presidency. In the end, he spent less than 45 minutes on the ground there and spoke just 21 minutes.

Trump has also refused to take part in any of the symbolic passing-of-the-torch traditions that have been the capstones of the peaceful transition of power from one administration to the next. He is boycotting not just the ceremony at the Capitol, but also passed on inviting the Bidens to the White House for a get-to-know-you meeting. And it remains unclear whether he will write Biden a personal welcome letter, like the one he received from former President Obama when he moved in.

Denied his Twitter bullhorn and with little else planned, Trump did participate in multiple meetings over the long weekend to discuss pending clemency actions, according to a White House official, who, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity because the action had yet to be made public.

Trump was personally involved in the effort to sift through requests, mostly from first-time drug offenders sentenced to life, rejecting some applications and greenlighting others, according to one of the people involved in the effort. Also playing a key role has been the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, who personally met with advocates, reviewed cases and brought them to the Department of Justice and pardon attorney.

Jessica Jackson, a lawyer and criminal justice advocate who has been working with the administration, said that she came to Ivanka Trump with the case of Darrell Frazier, who has served more than 29 years of a life sentence with no parole for his role in a drug conspiracy. While incarcerated, he founded a non-profit foundation in Tennessee that teaches tennis to 100-200 kids a week.

“I heard his story and brought it to Ivanka,” said Jackson. “Once she heard the story, she took it to the DOJ, she took it to the pardon attorney.”

Trump had been expected to move forward with additional pardons and commutations earlier this month, but discussions were put on hold after the insurrection at the Capitol by pro-Trump rioters incited by the president’s fiery and baseless election challenges. That threw an already paralyzed White House into even further chaos.

Trump has since been impeached for a second time and a sense of wariness has set in, with the president’s inner circle fearful of doing anything that could provoke a conviction in the Senate that would potentially bar him from ever holding office again.

That would curtail any chance of a 2024 presidential run and Trump had hoped to at least stoke the rumours of a campaign to remain relevant and a GOP kingmaker. Trump aides nervously watched Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Tuesday denunciation of the president’s words that incited the riot; if McConnell, who has not signalled how he will vote in the trial, opts to convict, enough Republicans may follow suit to oust Trump, who does not have his Twitter account to keep his adopted party in line.

A long list of Trump staffers have already packed their offices and departed the White House, leaving the West Wing deserted — a warren of empty offices and bare walls — surrounded by an unprecedented security apparatus with National Guard troops, military vehicles and checkpoints aimed at staving off further violence.

Moving trucks were spotted in Florida on Monday arriving at Trump’s private Mar-a-Lago club.

It remains unclear whether Trump will pardon Steve Bannon, his former top strategist, or offer pre-emptive reprieves to his attorney, Rudy Giuliani, his adult children and or even himself — uncharted legal territory.

Bannon has been charged with duping thousands of investors who believed their money would be used to fulfil Trump’s chief campaign promise to build a wall along the southern border. Instead, Bannon is charged with diverting over a million dollars, paying a salary to one campaign official and personal expenses for himself.

Giuliani said on his Sunday radio show that, while he fears that prosecutors might “try to frame me,” he is ”willing to run that risk.”

“I do not need a pardon. I don’t commit crimes,” he said.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who speaks often with Trump, said on Fox’s Sunday Morning Futures that there are also “a lot of people” urging the president to pardon those who participated in the storming of the Capitol building — pleas he urged the president to swiftly reject.

“I don’t care if you went there and spread flowers on the floor, you breached the security of the Capitol, you interrupted a joint session of Congress, you tried to intimidate us all. You should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and to seek a pardon of these people would be wrong,” he said. He warned that such a move “would destroy President Trump and I hope we don’t go down that road.”

In addition to the bold-faced names, Trump’s list is expected to include people whose cases have been championed by criminal justice reform advocates. They are people like Chris Young, who was sentenced to life in prison for drug possession because of federal sentencing minimums and whose case has been championed by reality TV star Kim Kardashian West.

“Our nation is not well served by spending millions of taxpayer dollars burying people alive under outdated federal drug laws,” said his attorney, Brittany K. Barnett, who is co-founder of the Buried Alive Project, a criminal justice reform advocacy group.

Trump has already pardoned a number of longtime associates and supporters, including his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort; the father of his son-in-law, Charles Kushner; his longtime friend and adviser Roger Stone and his former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Jill Colvin And Jonathan Lemire, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Donald Trump

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Some of the folks behind Angel Flight East Kootenay: Todd Weselake is a director, partner and pilot while Brent Bidston is the president and lead pilot of the not-for-profit. Pictured here with their older plane, they hope to get an upgrade for thanks to RDEK funding. (Image courtesy of Angel Flight East Kootenay)
Angel Flight secures RDEK funding for next five years

$100,000 will go to the not-for-profit each year, with the funds to be used to acquire a larger plane

Ryan Bavin of Bavin Glassworks in Invermere. Photo: Submitted
Call for entries for Columbia Basin Culture Tour

Deadline for registration for artists and venues is April 15

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
36 new cases of COVID-19, one death in Interior Health

The number of active cases in the region is at 366

Michelle Thorne of Fernie Distillers with some Griz-themed cocktails available for Griz Days 2021. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Griz Days comes to town

While mostly virtual, there’s Griz-themed food and drink around town

Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison. File photo
COMMON’S CORNER: Challenging the government on vaccine availability and more

The first of a quarterly column from Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Chief Don Tom of the Tsartlip First Nation was outraged after Green MLA Adam Olsen revealed on social media that the community had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak – a fact the First Nation had chosen to keep private to avoid racist backlash as experienced by the Cowichan Tribes when an outbreak was declared there in January. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation ‘outraged’ after Green MLA reveals COVID-19 outbreak

Tsartlip First Nation chief shares concerns about racist backlash, MLA apologizes

A lawyer wears a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting to enter B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. British Columbia’s highest court has sided with the land owner in a dispute over public access to public land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. high court finds in favour of large landowner in fight over access to pair of lakes

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company blocked road and trail access

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa Friday, March 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau holds firm on premiers’ health-care funding demands, COVID-19 aid comes first

Premiers argue that the current amount doesn’t keep pace with yearly cost increases of about five per cent

Free Reformed Church is seen as people attend service, in Chilliwack, B.C., on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. Lawyers for the British Columbia government and the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms are back in B.C. Supreme Court today, squaring off over the legality of COVID-19 rules that prohibit in-person religious services. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. top doctor has power to restrict access to a place during health hazard: lawyer

Under B.C.’s Public Health Act, Jacqueline Hughes says, Henry can restrict or prevent entry to a place

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
B.C. dentists and bus drivers want newly-approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine

BC Dental Association says dentists and their teams cannot treat patients remotely

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Most Read