Also on the list of those granted clemency on Wednesday were two prominent entertainers. The rapper Lil Wayne, born Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., received a full pardon after pleading guilty to possession of a firearm and ammunition by a felon in December. Mr. Trump also granted a commutation to another rapper, Kodak Black, whose legal name is Bill Kapri (though he was born Dieuson Octave). In 2019, he was sentenced to nearly four years in prison for lying on background paperwork while attempting to buy guns.
The latest round of pardons and commutations from the White House also included Kwame Kilpatrick, a former mayor of Detroit who was found guilty in 2013 of various charges including racketeering, fraud and extortion. Rick Renzi, a former congressman from Arizona, received a full pardon after he was sentenced in 2013 to three years in jail in association with a bribery scheme involving an Arizona land swap deal.
The pardons and commutations issued on Wednesday underscored how many of Mr. Trump’s close associates and supporters became ensnared in corruption cases and other legal troubles, and highlighted again his willingness to use his power to help them and others with connections to him.
The flurry of activity in Mr. Trump’s final hours added to the dozens of clemency applications granted by Mr. Trump while in office.
It came nearly a month after Mr. Trump pardoned, among others, Charles Kushner, the father of his son-in-law, Jared Kushner; Paul Manafort, his 2016 campaign chairman; and Roger J. Stone Jr., his longtime informal adviser and friend whose sentence the president had commuted in July.
Both Mr. Stone and Mr. Manafort had declined to cooperate with prosecutors in connection with the special counsel’s Russia investigation, which Mr. Trump had disparaged as the “Russian collusion hoax,” “prosecutorial misconduct” and an “injustice.”
The Supreme Court has ruled that the Constitution gives presidents unlimited authority to grant pardons, which excuse or forgive a federal crime. A commutation, by contrast, makes a punishment milder without wiping out the underlying conviction.
Here are some of the pardons and commutations issued by Mr. Trump:
Pardon: Dec. 23, 2020
Table Of Contents
- 1 Paul Manafort
- 2 Roger J. Stone Jr.
- 3 Charles Kushner
- 4 George Papadopoulos and Alex van der Zwaan
- 5 Duncan Hunter, Chris Collins and Steve Stockman
- 6 Michael T. Flynn
- 7 Nicholas Slatten
- 8 Joe Arpaio
- 9 Rod R. Blagojevich
- 10 Alice Marie Johnson
- 11 Jack Johnson, Susan B. Anthony, Zay Jeffries
- 12 Scooter Libby
- 13 Clint Lorance, Maj. Mathew L. Golsteyn, Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher
- 14 Dwight L. Hammond and Steven D. Hammond
- 15 Other Pardons
Mr. Manafort, 71, had been sentenced in 2019 to seven and a half years in prison for his role in a decade-long, multimillion-dollar financial fraud scheme for his work in the former Soviet Union. He was released early from prison in May as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and given home confinement. Mr. Trump had repeatedly expressed sympathy for Mr. Manafort, describing him as a brave man who had been mistreated by the special counsel’s office.
Pardon: Dec. 23, 2020, Commutation: July 10, 2020
Roger J. Stone Jr.
Mr. Stone, a longtime friend and adviser of Mr. Trump, was sentenced in February 2020 to more than three years in prison in a politically fraught case that put the president at odds with his attorney general. Mr. Stone was convicted of seven felony charges, including lying under oath to a congressional committee and threatening a witness whose testimony would have exposed those lies.
Mr. Trump commuted Mr. Stone’s sentence in July and then pardoned him in December. A White House statement said that Mr. Stone had been “treated very unfairly” and added that “pardoning him will help to right the injustices he faced at the hands of the Mueller investigation.”
Pardon: Dec. 23, 2020
Mr. Kushner, 66, the father-in-law of the president’s older daughter, Ivanka Trump, pleaded guilty in 2004 to 16 counts of tax evasion, a single count of retaliating against a federal witness and one of lying to the Federal Election Commission. He served two years in prison before being released in 2006.
Mr. Kushner’s prison sentence was a searing event in his family’s life.
The witness he was accused of retaliating against was his brother-in-law, whose wife, Mr. Kushner’s sister, was cooperating with federal officials in a campaign finance investigation into Mr. Kushner. Mr. Kushner was accused of videotaping his brother-in-law with a prostitute and then sending it to his sister.
The case was prosecuted by then-U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, a longtime Trump friend who went on to become governor of New Jersey.
PARDON: DEC. 22, 2020
George Papadopoulos and Alex van der Zwaan
George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser to Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign, pleaded guilty in 2017 to making false statements to federal officials as part of the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.
Mr. Papadopoulos served 12 days in jail for lying to the F.B.I. about his contacts with Russian intermediaries during the 2016 presidential race. He later published a book portraying himself as a victim of a “deep state” plot to “bring down President Trump.”
Also pardoned was Alex van der Zwaan, a lawyer who was sentenced in April 2018 to 30 days in prison for lying to investigators for the special counsel’s office who were investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
PARDON: DEC. 22, 2020
Duncan Hunter, Chris Collins and Steve Stockman
Three former Republican members of Congress were pardoned by Mr. Trump: Duncan Hunter of California, Chris Collins of New York and Steve Stockman of Texas.
Mr. Hunter was set to begin serving an 11-month sentence in January. He pleaded guilty in 2019 to one charge of misusing campaign funds. Prosecutors said he had funneled more than $150,000 from his campaign coffers to pay for a lavish lifestyle.
On Dec. 23, Mr. Trump pardoned Margaret Hunter, Mr. Hunter’s estranged wife, who had also pleaded guilty to charges of misusing campaign funds for personal expenses.
Mr. Collins, an early endorser of Mr. Trump, is serving a 26-month sentence after pleading guilty in 2019 to charges of making false statements to the F.B.I. and to conspiring to commit securities fraud. He admitted passing private information about an Australian drug company to his son to help him avoid financial losses.
Mr. Stockman was convicted in 2018 on charges of fraud and money laundering and was serving a 10-year sentence. He was charged with stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars meant for charity and using it to pay for personal expenses and his political campaigns.
Pardon: Nov. 25, 2020
Michael T. Flynn
Michael T. Flynn, a former national security adviser who twice pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. about his conversations with a Russian diplomat, and whose prosecution Attorney General William P. Barr tried to shut down, was the only White House official to be convicted as part of the Trump-Russia investigation.
In a statement about Mr. Flynn’s pardon, White House officials said he never should have been prosecuted and that the president’s action had finally brought “to an end the relentless, partisan pursuit of an innocent man.”
PARDON: DEC. 22, 2020
Mr. Trump issued full pardons to Nicholas Slatton and three other former U.S. service members who were convicted on charges related to the killing of Iraqi civilians while they were working as security contractors for Blackwater, a private company, in 2007.
Mr. Slatten and the others — Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard — were sentenced for their role in the killing of 17 Iraqi civilians in Nisour Square in Baghdad. The massacre that left one of the most lasting stains of the war on the United States. Among the dead were two boys, 8 and 11.
Mr. Slatten had been sentenced to life in prison after the Justice Department had gone to great lengths to prosecute him.
Pardon: Aug. 25, 2017
Joe Arpaio, an anti-immigration crusader who enjoyed calling himself “America’s toughest sheriff,” was the first pardon of Mr. Trump’s presidency.
Once one of the most popular — and divisive — figures in Arizona, Mr. Arpaio was elected sheriff of Maricopa County five times before he was ultimately charged with criminal contempt for defying a court order to stop detaining people solely on the suspicion that they were undocumented immigrants. Mr. Arpaio was pardoned less than a month after he was found guilty.
Conrad M. Black, a former press baron and friend of Mr. Trump’s, was granted a full pardon 12 years after his sentencing for fraud and obstruction of justice.
Mr. Black, who once owned The Chicago Sun-Times, The Jerusalem Post and The Daily Telegraph of London, among other newspapers, was convicted of fraud in 2007 with three other former executives of Hollinger International.
Mr. Black, who was released from prison in 2012, is the author of several pro-Trump opinion articles as well as a flattering book, “Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other.”
COMMUTATION: Feb. 18, 2020
Rod R. Blagojevich
Dinesh D’Souza received a presidential pardon after pleading guilty to making illegal campaign contributions in 2014. Mr. D’Souza, a filmmaker and author whose subjects often dabble in conspiracy theories, had long blamed his conviction on his political opposition to Mr. Obama.
In issuing his pardon, Mr. Trump said that Mr. D’Souza had been “treated very unfairly by our government,” echoing a claim the commentator has often made himself.
Edward J. DeBartolo Jr., a former owner of the San Francisco 49ers, pleaded guilty in 1998 to concealing an extortion plot. Mr. DeBartolo was prosecuted after he gave Edwin W. Edwards, the influential former governor of Louisiana, $400,000 to secure a riverboat gambling license for his gambling consortium.
Although Mr. DeBartolo avoided prison, he was fined $1 million and was suspended for a year by the N.F.L.
commutation: June 6, 2018; Pardon: Aug. 28, 2019
Alice Marie Johnson
Alice Marie Johnson was serving life in a federal prison for a nonviolent drug conviction before her case was brought to Mr. Trump’s attention by the reality television star Kim Kardashian West.
The president’s decision to commute her sentence freed Ms. Johnson, who had been locked up in Alabama since 1996 on charges related to cocaine distribution and money laundering. Mr. Trump later pardoned Ms. Johnson on Aug. 28, 2019.
Jack Johnson, Susan B. Anthony, Zay Jeffries
Mr. Trump has issued posthumous pardons to three historical figures.
Jack Johnson, the first Black heavyweight boxing champion, was tarnished by a racially tainted criminal conviction in 1913 — for transporting a white woman across state lines — that haunted him well after his death in 1946. Mr. Trump pardoned him on May 24, 2018.
Susan B. Anthony, the women’s suffragist, was arrested in Rochester, N.Y., in 1872 for voting illegally and was fined $100. Mr. Trump pardoned her on Aug. 18, the 100th anniversary of the ratification of 19th Amendment, which extended voting rights to women.
Zay Jeffries, a metal scientist whose contributions to the Manhattan Project and whose development of armor-piercing artillery shells helped the Allies win World War II, was granted a posthumous pardon on Oct. 10, 2019. Jeffries was found guilty in 1948 of an antitrust violation related to his work and was fined $2,500.
Ten years ago, Bernard B. Kerik, a former New York City police commissioner, was sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to eight felony charges, including tax fraud and lying to White House officials.
Mr. Trump said he heard from more than a dozen people about pardoning Mr. Kerik, including Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York mayor and Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer. Mr. Kerik’s rise to prominence dates to the 1993 campaign for mayor in New York City, when he served as Mr. Giuliani’s bodyguard and chauffeur. After the pardon was announced, Mr. Kerik expressed his gratitude to Mr. Trump on Twitter. “With the exception of the birth of my children,” he wrote, “today is one of the greatest days in my life.”
Pardon: April 13, 2018
I. Lewis Libby Jr., known as Scooter, was Vice President Dick Cheney’s top adviser before Mr. Libby was convicted in 2007 of four felony counts, including perjury and obstruction of justice, in connection with the disclosure of the identity of a C.I.A. officer, Valerie Plame.
Mr. Libby had maintained his innocence for years, and his portrayal as a victim of an unfair prosecution ultimately found favor with Mr. Trump.
Pardon: Nov. 15, 2019
Clint Lorance, Maj. Mathew L. Golsteyn, Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher
Mr. Trump’s decision to clear three members of the armed services who had been accused or convicted of war crimes signaled that the president intended to use his power as the ultimate arbiter of military justice.
He ordered full pardons of Clint Lorance, a former Army lieutenant who was serving a 19-year sentence for the murder of two civilians, and Maj. Mathew L. Golsteyn, an Army Special Forces officer who was facing murder charges for killing an unarmed Afghan he believed was a Taliban bomb maker.
The president also reversed the demotion of Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL who had been acquitted of murder charges but convicted of a lesser offense in a high-profile war crimes case.
All three had been championed by prominent conservatives who had portrayed them as war heroes unfairly prosecuted for actions taken in the heat and confusion of battle.
Michael R. Milken was the billionaire “junk bond king” and a well-known financier on Wall Street in the 1980s. In 1990, he pleaded guilty to securities fraud and conspiracy charges and was sentenced to 10 years in prison, though his sentence was later reduced to two. He also agreed to pay $600 million in fines and penalties.
Mr. Milken did not have a pardon or commutation application pending at the Justice Department’s pardons office, meaning that the president made that decision entirely without official department input. Among those arguing for Mr. Milken to be pardoned was Mr. Giuliani, who as the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York prosecuted Mr. Milken.
Pardon: July 10, 2018
Dwight L. Hammond and Steven D. Hammond
Dwight Hammond and his son, Steven Hammond, were Oregon cattle ranchers who had been serving five-year sentences for arson on federal land. Their cases inspired an antigovernment group’s weekslong standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon in 2016 and brought widespread attention to anger over federal land management in the Western United States.
The occupation, led by the Bundy family, drew militia members who commandeered government buildings and vehicles in tactical gear and long guns, promising to defend the family. During his campaign, Mr. Trump played to that sense of Western grievance, and the pardon of the Hammonds was a signal to conservatives that he was sympathetic.
David H. Safavian, the top federal procurement official under President George W. Bush, was sentenced in 2009 to a year in prison for covering up his ties to Jack Abramoff, the disgraced lobbyist whose corruption became a symbol of the excesses of Washington influence peddling. Mr. Safavian was convicted of obstruction of justice and making false statements.
Angela Stanton — an author, television personality and motivational speaker — served six months of home confinement in 2007 for her role in a stolen-vehicle ring. Her book “Life of a Real Housewife” explores her difficult upbringing and her encounters with reality TV stars.
Before her pardon, she gave interviews in which she declared her support for Mr. Trump. In announcing her pardon, the White House credited her with working “tirelessly to improve re-entry outcomes for people returning to their communities upon release from prison.”
Mr. Trump has pardoned a number of other people, including a construction executive whose family donated heavily to the president’s re-election effort and a man convicted of bank robbery who started a nonprofit that helps former prisoners.
Paul Pogue, a former owner of a Texas construction company, was pardoned on Feb. 18, 2020, for tax charges after his family contributed more than $200,000 to Mr. Trump’s re-election effort.
Ariel Friedler, a former executive of a software development company who pleaded guilty to conspiring to hack a competitor, secured a pardon on Feb. 18, 2020, with the help of Chris Christie, the former governor of New Jersey and a close ally of Mr. Trump’s.
Michael Chase Behenna, a former Army lieutenant, served five years in prison for fatally shooting an Iraqi man in American custody in 2008. Mr. Trump pardoned him on May 6, 2019. His case had “attracted broad support from the military, Oklahoma elected officials, and the public,” according to the White House.
Patrick James Nolan, a Republican former leader of the California State Assembly, pleaded guilty in 1994 to corruption charges and accepted a 33-month sentence. After his release, he became a supporter of criminal justice reform, according to the White House. Mr. Trump pardoned him on May 15, 2019.
Michael Anthony Tedesco, who was convicted of drug trafficking and fraud in 1990, was pardoned on July 29, 2019. President Obama had already pardoned Mr. Tedesco in 2017, but Mr. Trump’s action fixed a clerical error related to the pardoning of Mr. Tedesco’s fraud conviction.
Roy Wayne McKeever was arrested on charges of transporting marijuana from Mexico to Oklahoma in 1989, when he was 19, and was sentenced to one year in prison. Mr. Trump pardoned him on July 29, 2019. A White House statement called him “an active member of the Sheriffs’ Association of Texas.”
John Richard Bubala pleaded guilty to the improper use of federal property in 1990 and was pardoned on July 29, 2019. A White House statement said Mr. Bubala had been transferring automotive equipment to an Indiana town for maintenance and his “primary aim was to help the town.”
Chalmer Lee Williams was an airport baggage handler who was convicted on charges related to the theft and sale of weapons and was sentenced to four months in prison in 1995. The White House said in a statement that Mr. Williams had accepted responsibility for his actions. Mr. Trump pardoned him on July 29, 2019.
Rodney M. Takumi, who was arrested while working at an illegal gambling parlor in 1987, pleaded no contest and was sentenced to two years of probation and fined $250. Mr. Trump pardoned him on July 29, 2019. The White House said Mr. Takumi was the owner of a tax preparation franchise in the Navajo Nation.
Jon Donyae Ponder, who pleaded guilty to bank robbery in 2005, started a nonprofit that helps former prisoners after he was released from prison in 2009. Mr. Trump pardoned him on Aug. 25, 2020, shortly before the Republican National Convention entered its second night. The pardon was announced in a seven-minute video in which the president called Mr. Ponder’s life “a beautiful testament to the power of redemption.”
Two former Border Patrol agents, whose sentences for their roles in the shooting of an alleged drug trafficker had previously been commuted by President George W. Bush, were granted full pardons on Dec. 22.
Marie Fazio and Christina Morales contributed reporting.