Donald Trump set to issue wave of pardons before leaving office

Nick Allen
·3 min read
Flynn - AP
Flynn - AP

Donald Trump is expected to issue a wave of pardons, including some related to the Russia investigation, in his final weeks in office.

It raised the possibility that the US president may also attempt to pre-emptively pardon himself to avoid any potential future legal entanglements.

On Wednesday night Mr Trump pardoned Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser, who had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with a Russian ambassador.

After doing so Mr Trump posted on Twitter comments from a close ally, Republican congressman Matt Gaetz.

Mr Gaetz said: "President Trump should pardon Flynn, the Thanksgiving turkey, and everyone from himself, to his administration."

The question of whether a president can self-pardon has never been constitutionally tested and, if Mr Trump attempts to do so, it could end up in the Supreme Court.

Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, was national security adviser for two weeks at the start of Mr Trump's administration. He had yet to be sentenced.

In a statement his family said he was the victim of a partisan prosecution and "hideous wrong".

They said: "Tyranny will not topple us. Masks will not silence us. Threats will not stop us. Evil will not triumph. May God Bless President Trump."

Mr Trump wrote on Twitter: "Have a great life General Flynn!"

The president is keen to undo, as much as possible, the results of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into links between his 2016 campaign and Russia, which he always maintained was a "witch hunt" by Democrats.

Others who could now be pardoned include Paul Manafort, his former campaign chairman who was jailed for fraud, his former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, who served 12 days for lying to the FBI, and former senior aide Rick Gates, who was sentenced to 45 days for conspiracy.

manafort - AP
manafort - AP

Mr Gates told the New York Times: "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."

Mr Papadopoulos, said he didn't expect one but "would be honoured to be pardoned."

Others potentially in line include former adviser Steve Bannon. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of defrauding donors over a plan to build a wall on the US-Mexico border.

It is traditional for departing presidents to issue pardons. Bill Clinton controversially pardoned a Democrat donor, and his own half brother.

Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat Speaker of the House, said the Flynn pardon was an "act of grave corruption and a brazen abuse of power."

Others lobbying for pardons include former zookeeper Joe Exotic, star of the TV show "Tiger King," who was was jailed for 22 years over a murder-for-hire plot.

His representatives reportedly spent $10,000 at Mr Trump's hotel in Washington in an attempt to get the president's attention.

An NBC poll showed 72 per cent of Americans thought presidents should not be able to pardon themselves, while only 13 per cent thought they should.