Clemency Seekers Likely to Descend Upon Trump White House
A number of lawyers and clemency seekers are going to descend upon the Trump administration this month, particularly after the presidential pardon of Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn on Wednesday, The New York Times reported.
There might as many as “hundreds of commutations for offenders now in jail for crimes ranging from nonviolent drug convictions to mail fraud and money laundering,” according to the Times, which reported White House senior adviser Jared Kushner is leading the clemency team in hearing cases.
“Lists of people are being circulated,” Vermont lawyer Brandon Sample, who has submitted several names to consider, told the Times.
Among those seeking potential pardons or commutations: Paul Manafort assistant Rick Gates, 2016 Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos, and two Alan Dershowitz clients, according to the report.
“Of course I would be honored to be pardoned,” Papadopoulos told the Times.
Dershowitz represented President Donald Trump during the Senate impeachment trial and he applauded the Flynn pardon, saying Trump “should extend that to others who are less well known,” per the Times.
Dershowitz’s clients include a New Jersey man serving 20 years for fraud and a billionaire involved in “one of North Carolina’s worst government corruption scandals,” per the report.
“The president knows how much those of us who worked for him have suffered, and I hope he takes that into consideration if and when he grants any pardons,” Gates, who pleaded guilty to financial fraud and lying to investigators, told the Times.
President Trump has already granted 29 full pardons and 16 commutations to shorten sentences.
Flynn was the second Trump associate convicted in the Russia probe to be granted clemency by the president. Trump commuted the sentence of longtime confidant Roger Stone just days before he was to report to prison. It is part of a broader effort to challenge the legitimacy of the Russia investigation the shadowed the Trump administration and yielded criminal charges against a half dozen associates.
Legal scholars are speculating about the potential for – and legitimacy of – a personal preemptive pardon of President Trump himself in connection with any charges his political foes might look to bring once he has left office. Trump is currently challenging election results that, on their face, show Joe Biden won this month’s election and is to be the next president.
Dershowitz told the Times the president “was very interested in the concept of the pardon power being more than just clemency, but being part of the system of checks and balances for excessive legislative or judicial actions.”