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Will President Trump pardon more than just turkeys before he leaves office?

Presidents have in recent decades issued pardons before they leave Washington
Will President Trump pardon more than just turkeys before he leaves office?
Posted at 4:08 PM, Nov 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-24 16:11:24-05

President Donald Trump pardoned Thanksgiving Turkeys on Tuesday, a comical White House tradition that has been around since the 1940s.

On a more serious note, one question is whether Trump will issue more pardons before he leaves office on January 20.

HISTORY OF PARDONS

The Constitution gives the president of the United States broad powers to pardon individuals with instructions saying the president “shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States.”

Presidents have used this clause extensively throughout history. President Franklin D. Rosevelt pardoned over 2,800 individuals during his time in office President Barack Obama pardoned 212 individuals.

Trump, so far, has pardoned just 28 individuals.

ACT OF MERCY

Alice Marie Johnson is a beneficiary of one of Trump's rare pardons.

Johnson was convicted of cocaine trafficking in the 1990s and sentenced to a lifetime in prison. After being convinced by Kim Kardashian West that Johnson had turned her life around, Trump granted Johnson clemency and then a full pardon earlier this year.

"I am free!" Johnson said during the 2020 Republican National Convention.

WHO MIGHT TRUMP PARDON?

Trump could issues hundreds of pardons in his final months. There is a backlog of over 13,000 clemency requests pending at the Department of Justice.

It's possible Trump could pardon former advisers, like Paul Manafort or Michael Flynn. Flynn briefly served as Trump's national security adviser.

It is also possible he could preemptively pardon advisers like Rudy Guiliani or his son Donald Trump Jr.

Neither have been charged with a crime but have been reportedly questioned by prosecutors.

"A president can pardon someone for a crime that has already been committed even if they haven’t been charged yet. Just think of Nixon, he hadn’t been charged with anything when Ford granted him that pardon," Dr. Mark Osler at St. Thomas University said.

Trump even tweeted in 2018 he may pardon himself.

PRESIDENTS USE THE POWER

If Trump issues controversial pardons before the end of his term, he wouldn't be alone.

President Bill Clinton pardoned 100 people in his final hours in office, including his brother Roger.

President Ronald Reagan pardoned the owner of the New York Yankees, George Steinbrenner, over campaign donation violations.

President Jimmy Carter pardoned Peter Yarrow of "Peter, Paul and Mary" for a crime of being indecent with a 14-year-old years prior.