Amid widespread outcry over Donald Trump’s pardon of Michael Flynn, speculation arose about who might be the next to receive the defeated president’s pardon.
Rick Gates, Trump’s 2016 campaign vice president, told the New York Times the president “knows how much those of us who work for him have suffered and I hope he will take that into account if he grants a pardon.”
Gates was one of many Trump aides convicted under former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference and Trump-Moscow ties. After pleading guilty to financial fraud and lying to investigators, he was sentenced to 45 days in jail.
Gates also told the Times that his motivation for criticizing Mueller in a recent book “was not to seek forgiveness; it was to expose the truth about the Russian investigation. “
Flynn, a retired general who was fired from the Defense Intelligence Agency by Barack Obama in 2014, became a trusted campaign surrogate for Trump. But Trump fired him as a national security adviser after just 24 days on the job, for lying to Vice President Mike Pence about contacts with Russian officials.
He pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI but was not sentenced before Trump pardoned him on Wednesday. saying: “Have a great life, General Flynn!”
Trump has already commuted a sentence of more than three years handed down to Roger Stone, a longtime ally, for obstruction, lying to Congress and intimidating witnesses.
Former campaign manager Paul Manafort is being held at his home with a seven-year sentence for fraud. George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser, was sentenced to 14 days in jail after pleading guilty to lying to the FBI. Michael Cohen, a former attorney and Trump repairman, was convicted of crimes including lying to Congress and secretly orchestrating money payments and is serving a three-year term at home. As he has definitely turned against the president, a pardon seems unlikely.
Papadopoulos had an unsuccessful run for Congress and has also published a book. He told the Times: “Of course it would be an honor to be forgiven.”
Outside of the Mueller investigation, former White House chief strategist and campaign executive Steve Bannon was charged with fraud in connection with raising funds for a border wall. Rudy Giuliani, the lawyer for the president and the bulldog in the election lawsuit, is reportedly under investigation for possible violations of the lobbying law. Elliott Broidy, a Trump fundraiser, pleaded guilty to lobbying charges.
In August, Patrick Cotter, a former federal prosecutor who helped convict mob boss John Gotti, told The Guardian: “I think it is unprecedented in any American administration that many of the people in the inner circle around of the president are swindlers, con artists and base criminals.
“While previous administrations had their share of those seeking personal gain and those willing to break the law to serve the political interests of the president, what is unique about the Trump administration is the large number of people in contact direct with the president, often for years, who reveal themselves as fraudsters for whom crime is apparently part of their lifestyle and character. “
Trump has forgiven allies, including Joe Arpaio and Bernard Kerik, and observers believe he might even try to forgive himself. However, it is not clear that such a move would be possible and, if it were, would not apply to state-level cases, such as those in New York involving campaign finance and tax issues.
Trump has not admitted defeating Joe Biden, but lost the electoral college by 306-232 and the popular vote by 6 million ballots and will leave office on January 20. Fighting for forgiveness is a common feature of the last days of any presidency. One day in December 2016, Barack Obama issued 78 pardons and commuted 153 federal sentences.
The Times also reported that Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, is leading an “ad-hoc” team “with the goal of announcing up to hundreds of commutations for offenders now in jail for crimes ranging from convictions. violent by drugs for mail fraud and money laundering ”.
Most of those pardons would be less controversial than the one given to Flynn. Yet among those campaigning for forgiveness is Joseph Maldonado-Passage. Better known as Joe Exotic, the zookeeper from the hit Netflix documentary Tiger King, received a 22-year sentence for attempting to hire a hit man to kill a rival.
Flynn retains influential supporters of the political right. The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board called his pardon “an expired act of justice that puts an end to four years of political harassment, unjustified persecution and judicial abuse.”
Critics pointed to Flynn’s guilty plea and the fact that, contrary to a statement by White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, a pardon does not imply innocence.
Senior Democrats, including the Speaker of the House, Nancy pelosi; the Senate minority leader, Chuck schumer; and the intelligence president of the Chamber, Adam Schiff, were among those who condemned Flynn’s pardon as a gross abuse of power.
in a cheep, former federal prosecutor and CNN analyst Elie Honig laid out the facts of the case.
Facts: Michael Flynn lied to the FBI about Russia. Flynn pleaded guilty twice. Trump tried to end the case and publicly issued a pardon. Flynn cooperated with Mueller and then stopped. [Attorney general William] Barr tried to kill [the Department of Justice’s] own case but the judge resisted. Trump forgave Flynn. “
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