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December 18, 2020

Any predictions on who and how many pardons will be granted by Trump today?

This new Axios piece, headlined "Scoop: Trump pardons expected today," suggests we will see some (significant?) clemency action today from the White House (around 5pm I would guess).  Here is what Axios has to say on the matter:

President Trump plans to issue a wave of pardons today, moving to expedite acts of clemency before Christmas, according to a source with direct knowledge and advocates who have been briefed on the plans.

What to watch: Trump has been considering pardons for friends and allies, as Axios reported, interrupting conversations with associates to spontaneously suggest he add them to his pardon list.  He already pardoned his former national security advisor Michael Flynn.

  • It was unclear who will be included in this batch.
  • Sen. Rand Paul called on Trump to pardon Edward Snowden in an article for The Federalist on Thursday.  A source with direct knowledge of the planning said they did not expect Trump to follow through with a Snowden pardon.

The big picture: Trump has considered several controversial pardons, including for his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

I would expect Prez Trump would be inclined to "save" whatever might prove to be his most controversial pardons for right before he leaves the White House.  But this pre-X-mas reported "wave of pardons" could still prove very interesting, especially because it may reveal whether Prez Trump has any considerable interest in using his clemency powers to dole out a lot of (needed) mercy to folks who are not high-profile offenders with high-profile advocates.

So, just to set a marker and to put a prediction on the record, I will forecast that we will see a few dozen clemency grants (and I am rooting for commutations as well as pardons), with only a few of these grants going to high-profile folks.  This may be a bit of wishful thinking, as his longest previous list of grants came in February and had 11 recipients, with more than a few famous names.  It would be great to see Prez Trump at least double or triple that number today, but I am trying not to get my hopes up.

A few recent related posts:

UPDATE:  As of mid-morning on Saturday, December 19, there has been no announcement of any pardons from the White House. So, the right answers to the questions inthe title of this post are technically "nobody" and "zero."

I suspect the White House is taking a bit more time to check the pardon list, so I remain hopeful we will see a set of clemency grants before Christmas.  But with this issue and this Prez, I am never quite sure what is happening or will happen.

December 18, 2020 at 12:27 PM | Permalink


He would go down in history if he was to commute all the horrible sentences of every person convicted under the "relevant conduct" drug charges, (all the people convicted under the statements made by others looking for a reduced sentence) They should be commuted, it would make a huge statement for him justifying the wrong that was done to these people, especially under the, "Hang them high" judge, Mcbryde.

Posted by: Elizabeth | Dec 18, 2020 9:29:00 PM


Oh, he’s going down in history for sure (assuming the world hangs on for much longer, but that seems doubtful), just not for anything like that. Likewise, there’s no question he’ll make a “yuge” statement, but it won’t be the kind you’re hoping for. If you’re holding your breath for him to do something even marginally humane or compassionate, having lungs the size of the Goodyear blimp still wouldn’t cut it.

@the OP

Well it’s way past 5pm now, so I guess those rumors ended up as fake news. That said, I’m throwing out a dark horse prediction anyway: Martin Shkreli. You heard it here first!

Posted by: hardreaders | Dec 18, 2020 10:43:08 PM

He's already gone down in history as the mass Covid spreader and mass Covid denier who caused the needless deaths of hundreds of thousands, and as the most narcissitic, egomaniacal, and pathological liar of a President as we have ever seen.

Posted by: anon | Dec 19, 2020 4:31:29 PM


That's totally correct, I was just thinking of the history books to be written in the future if--and that's a "yuge" if!--we don't first succumb to climate disaster and the chaos that follows. And speaking of science denial, we'll all know who to blame if that does come to pass.

@the updated OP

You also can't fail to account for how petty he and his tribe of sycophants are. I'm sure they quite savor the idea of making the "lamestream enemy of the people fake news media" journalist "nerd" types waste their Friday night sitting around waiting for an announcement that never comes.

Posted by: hardreaders | Dec 20, 2020 10:57:50 AM

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