Donald Trump’s cronies are collecting millions of dollars to secure pardons

President Trump delivers remarks to supporters in DC to support Trump's claims of voter fraud

I sort of hoped that Donald Trump would be so focused on saving his own orange skin that he would forget about pardons entirely. But that’s not the case. As it turns out, the people around Trump have been scoring huge paydays as “pardon lobbyists” in the final months of the Trump administration. Grifting ‘til the bitter end:

As President Trump prepares to leave office in days, a lucrative market for pardons is coming to a head, with some of his allies collecting fees from wealthy felons or their associates to push the White House for clemency, according to documents and interviews with more than three dozen lobbyists and lawyers. The brisk market for pardons reflects the access peddling that has defined Mr. Trump’s presidency as well as his unorthodox approach to exercising unchecked presidential clemency powers. Pardons and commutations are intended to show mercy to deserving recipients, but Mr. Trump has used many of them to reward personal or political allies.

The pardon lobbying heated up as it became clear that Mr. Trump had no recourse for challenging his election defeat, lobbyists and lawyers say. One lobbyist, Brett Tolman, a former federal prosecutor who has been advising the White House on pardons and commutations, has monetized his clemency work, collecting tens of thousands of dollars, and possibly more, in recent weeks to lobby the White House for clemency for the son of a former Arkansas senator; the founder of the notorious online drug marketplace Silk Road; and a Manhattan socialite who pleaded guilty in a fraud scheme.

Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer John M. Dowd has marketed himself to convicted felons as someone who could secure pardons because of his close relationship with the president, accepting tens of thousands of dollars from a wealthy felon and advising him and other potential clients to leverage Mr. Trump’s grievances about the justice system.

[From The NY Times]

What’s even crazier about all of this blatant influence-peddling for pardons is that it’s not explicitly illegal. There’s basically a legal loophole for people outside of the administration to act as self-styled pardon lobbyists, taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from wealthy felons, all to ask Trump for a pardon. Speaking of, Trump is preparing to pardon about 100 people in the next 48 hours:

President Trump is preparing to pardon or commute the sentences of more than 100 people in his final hours in office, decisions that are expected to be announced Monday or Tuesday, according to two people familiar with the discussions, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the plans. Trump met Sunday with his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, daughter Ivanka Trump and other aides for a significant amount of the day to review a long list of pardon requests and discuss lingering questions about their appeals, according to the multiple people briefed on the meeting. The president was personally engaged with the details of specific cases, one person said.

In the past week, Trump has been particularly consumed with the question of whether to issue preemptive pardons to his adult children, top aides and himself, said the people familiar with discussions. But it remains unclear whether he will make such a move. Although he has mused about the possibility, no final decisions have been reached, and some advisers have warned against using his pardon power to benefit himself.

People familiar with the discussions said that many of the pardons and commutations Trump is expected to issue in his final days will be uncontroversial. But it remains unknown whether he will grant clemency to Stephen K. Bannon, his former campaign adviser, who was charged last year with defrauding donors to a private fundraising effort for construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, or his personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani, whose consulting business has come under scrutiny as part of an investigation that led to charges against two of his associates.

[From WaPo]

I heard on the morning news that Trump was now somewhat unlikely to self-pardon, even though his people are telling him that he could definitely be criminally liable for inciting an insurrection. There’s also the belief that if Trump self-pardons, Republicans in the Senate would be even more likely to go hard on Trump during the impeachment trial. As for the pardons for Jared, Ivanka, Steve Bannon, etc… I mean, I don’t know. I think it would be really funny if Trump does not end up pardoning Javanka.

Trump Hosts a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Event in the East Room

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Backgrid.

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46 Responses to “Donald Trump’s cronies are collecting millions of dollars to secure pardons”

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  1. Snuffles says:

    Trump is probably taking a cut of the grift so I’m not surprised he’s actually engaged in this process.

    • HoofRat says:

      Yes, that was my thought as well; gotta augment the revenue stream now that he’s being pulled away from the public trough he’s been swilling from for four years.

      • (TheOG) Jan90067 says:

        It’s been put out he’s going to issue about 100 tomorrow. Ghouliani is putting feelers out that it’ll be at about 2M a pop, from wealthy felons. Think about that. $200 MILLION; what do you think his cut will be? 50% in an off-shore shell acct.?

      • Seraphina says:

        That power comes from being president and any money gained from that power should go into the pockets of the Government – you know, since he doesn’t need money like when he did not want the POTUS salary.

    • Agirlandherdog says:

      If he grants these people pardons, he is absolutely taking a cut. There’s not way someone would pay for a pardon, and he wouldn’t get a piece of the pie.

    • Va Va Kaboom says:

      In addition to his cut of the bribe… sorry lobbying fee, Trump has only ever been interested in the most sovereign-like powers of the Presidency. So “magnanimously” pardoning people, especially wealthy people, is right up his alley.

      • Joan Rivers says:

        AFTER being pardoned, they can’t plead the 5th if they’re questioned — so it’s not as good as they think.

  2. SarahCS says:

    HOW is this not illegal?

    I know Biden/Harris have way bigger things to deal with but I really hope that the whole ‘mechanism’ of the presidency is reviewed. So much seems to depend on good faith and respect for the role. Sadly I believe greater constraints are required as I absolutely see a future where another immoral grifter sits in the seat.

    • Original Jenns says:

      That’s what my boyfriend said a while ago. That so much of the presidency was open to horrific decisions, were it not for the person whi is president acting like a decent person. Now that we’ve seen that literally anyone can be president, the loop holes and gaps that are there, just assuming a person won’t be a monster, need to be closed.

    • Joan Rivers says:

      It’s been a “Stress Test” of all the norms and rules and laws that need to be addressed.

      This CAN happen again. So it’s actually important that they tighten up all of this.

  3. Oh_Hey says:

    As if we needed more proof that the Senate should have been made to come back and kick this fool out now….

  4. Teebee says:

    Wow. Right to the end I didn’t think I’d see something that could or would shock me with Trump, Even the storming of the Capitol, as horrific as it was, did not shock me. And it looks like consequences are coming, for some.

    But for Trump, to abuse his powers, right to the end, and openly and blatantly defy and desecrate the office of POTUS, by giving pardons for cash. Leaving deserving but penniless people out of the running, IN FRONT OF THE GOVERNMENT THAT IS SUPPOSED TO KNOW ABOUT AND PROTECT ITS CITIZENS AND INSTITUTIONS FROM SUCH EGREGIOUS CRIMINAL BEHAVIOUR… I had to stop and breathe for a minute.

    How can he get away with this? How can this not be stopped? Illegal? Actionable?

    Please, help me understand.

  5. Leah says:

    I heard the Capitol insurrectionists were expecting pardons but I don’t see them shelling out top drawer prices (word is: 2mil a pop). I think they just expect it for just “following orders”.

    A pardon is an admittance of guilt and you can’t take the 5th. It’s not exactly something to wear with pride.

    • Snuffles says:

      I think those insurrectionists are in for a ride awakening. They failed so Trump no longer finds them useful, and like you said, unless they’ve got money or power that can benefit Trump, they are shit out of luck.

    • Darla says:

      I hope he decides it’s not in his best interest to pardon them. My worry is he will believe it will make his base (aka; cash cow) happy, so he will. I saw that private plane lady, or one very similar, they all look alike, affluent blondes, on tv whining she wants a pardon and acting incredulous that she’s “facing prison time”. Yeah, you broke the law, moron. They really believe laws don’t apply to them. I would love to see her get real time.

      • Snuffles says:

        But his base aren’t really his cash cow. They’re disposable pawns. At least the poor ones. He only cares about his rich allies at this point and what they can do for him.

      • pottymouth pup says:

        I think he’s being advised not to pardon them as that would be used against him in his senate trial & may sway a few Republicans to vote to convict.

    • Mignionette says:

      I think he has likely cut a deal with the incoming administration not to pardon the insurrectionists, so that they can be made examples of.

      If Trump were to pardon them law and order would be eased and his own trial hugely compromised.

      But like everyone has mentioned the Donald is working in his own best interest.

      On another note I truly do think he expected to win, bc essentially he was surrounded by an echo chamber of yes men.

      He really believed that Time cover and saw himself as the dictator of the future. He must be sooo mad that Obama achieved everything he could not, I wonder if he even accepts that he lacked the smarts to do the job?

    • grabbyhands says:

      I don’t think anyone in his inner circle is concerned about pride. None of them has yet to suffer any real consequences for anything they’ve done, and so this is just another step in that.

      I can’t decide if he will pardon the insurrectionists or not – I mean, they are not cash cows so he really doesn’t care if they go to jail or not, but he knows pardoning them would make everyone mad so I could see him doing that just to spite people with the added bonus of putting unhinged lunatics back out on the streets to reorganize and try again.

      • Ainsley7 says:

        He won’t pardon them. They all say they went because he told them to storm the Capitol. He’s trying to pretend that he didn’t do that. Pardoning them would be the same as admitting that he sent them there.

    • Sigmund says:

      According to the Washington Post, the impeachment does not allow Trump to pardon the insurrectionists or himself for inciting the insurrection. He can still try, but it would go to Congress to be disputed, and Dems have a majority (barely, but still) on the 20th.

      So while he can sell his pardon to the highest bidders, he likely cannot pardon the terrorists who attacked the Capitol, which is something, even if we wish it was more.

  6. lassie says:

    Wow, Chaucer was right all along….

  7. Golly Gee says:

    An associate of Rudy Giuliani told former CIA agent John Kiriakou, that a pardon would cost him $2 million.
    Trump could face criminal charges because many of his followers have said that they were just following his orders. This includes Texas real estate agent Jenna Ryan, who flew to Washington on a private plane for his rally and subsequent storming of the capitol building. She posted a video saying “We are going to f—ing go in here. Life or death, it doesn’t matter. Here we go.” She is now crying and asking for a pardon from Trump because she may be facing jail time. What happened to life or death? Not willing to do a bit of jail time for the cause? Boo-hoo.

  8. Va Va Kaboom says:

    Does he have the power to pardon Ivanka for that putty-colored jumpsuit? Because that’s a whole felony in and of itself.

  9. Rapunzel says:

    Trump won’t pardon the insurrectionists because it would hurt his Impeachment conviction trial. I think that may also keep him from pardoning himself and his spawn, or his spawn’s spouses. So hopefully we’ll at least have that.

    Also, doesn’t look like Rudy or any other players in the election lie are getting pardons. They are gonna need them too.

  10. Josie Bean says:

    I figured there would be last minute pardons – coming from Trump it is concerning and I dread hearing who he is going to “pardon”. This right to hand out pardons needs to stop – it is dangerous.

  11. Mignionette says:

    I pretty much predicted this two weeks ago.

    It also seems to suggest that Donald is radioactive, isolated and needs to make a lot of money really quickly. No one wants to be connected to a seditionist former president, but if you can be pardoned by one, why not take the opportunity.

    I hope the pardons are retro-actively declared null and void after he is tried and the ‘donor’s’ lose all their money. He should not be trading on his position in office.

    It always amazes me how the media laugh off his deplorable acts thus holding him to a much lower standard.

    Obama was nearly impeached for wearing a tan suit, yet this man (commander in chief) has led insurrection against his own country, is more than likely a Russian Asset, openly associated with world dictators whilst alienating allies, a racist white supremacist and just an all round piece of merde.

    Tick Tock the hours can’t pass quickly enough

    • Digital Unicorn says:

      Whats the story about Obama and a tan suit?!?!

      He needs the money as 2 of his banks have closed accounts and have cut ties with him, his family and his businesses. He needs cash and he needs it now. Deutsche Bank wants their $300 million plus interest that was a PERSONAL loan to him – makes you wonder what he put up in collateral – Mar a Lago and Trump Tower?

      Am beginning to think he will flee the country to avoid all the lawsuits and financial bankruptcy.

      • Rapunzel says:

        DU- The story is Obama wore a tan colored suit at a press conference. The right freaked. They said it was unpresidential. Apparently it was “too casual.”

        They had similar freakouts when Obama ate dijon mustard, and when Michelle O wore a sleeveless dress.

        And I agree; I think Trump will flee. He basically said he would in November. I hope authorities are watching.

  12. Anna S says:

    Well, the Supreme Court determined that an acceptance of a pardon is an admission of guilt so I hope anyone that accepts a federal pardon is very quickly reviewed for what possible state crimes they’ve committed. If you’re committing federal crimes, there’s not a chance your innocent of state ones. And the pardon doesn’t cover those.

    • Mignionette says:

      But don’t you have to be charged of the crime first to be pardoned. In Kushner’s case he has already been convicted and served time.

      Question for the US Lawyers ?

      • Golly Gee says:

        In Kushner’s case, I think it just removes his criminal record. What the implications of that are I don’t know. For some it can mean a reinstatement of a pension, like the former CIA agent I mentioned up thread. He has served his time, but had his pension taken away as a result of the crime.

      • Rapunzel says:

        Anna- the way I understand it, even preemptive pardons still need to at least vaguely refer to the crimes to be pardoned. Like, “any future crime related to tax fraud” or “future prosecution related to association with so and so.” If the pardon isn’t written correctly, it could be challenged in court.

        Also, admitting guilt to a federal crime in a pardon could leave one open to state charges, since usually, they go hand in hand. State charges are definitely not pardonable. Otherwise, a president could write a preemptive pardon for murder or rape, etc.

      • Mignionette says:

        @Golly Gee @ Anna @Rupunzel thanks for your answers !

  13. grabbyhands says:

    As ever, one of the things I find most stomach churning about this is that the man at the center of it is one of the dumbest, most foolish people on the planet.

    This country has been brought to its knees in a way that hasn’t been seen since the Civil war and and by one of the most worthless beings to ever breathe. He’s basically on succeeded through sheer dumb luck and rampant corruption. BLATANT corruption. And yet 29% of the population still cape for this idiot.

    I honestly think I’d find it easier to take if he were some kind of cartoon criminal mastermind. But he’s not.

  14. Jessa says:

    So interested to see if he pardons Javanka + co. To do so would be an admission of guilt, which he would unlikely do, but to not pardon leaves them very much at risk.

  15. Sean says:

    Trump wants to leave the WH and fly to Florida on Wednesday morning before Biden’s inauguration so he can arrive at Mar-A-Lago while still president.

    My wish is on that morning, when he boards that plane, they tell him they’re experiencing “technical difficulties” and take off will be delayed. Leave him on the tarmac. Then at 12:01 PM, inform him he is NO LONGER POTUS and oh by the way, the FBI and agents from the AG of SDNY are now boarding the plane.

    It won’t happen, I know but I can dream!

  16. Willow says:

    They should just hang a ‘For Sale’ sign off the White House balcony. Because that is what this is. He already sold the Cabinet positions, then the Supreme Court, next up, pardons! Oh, and don’t forget he raided the military coffers to pay contractors millions for his border wall.

  17. Peaches says:

    I’m hypnotized by CNN and MSNBC.
    Nothing he does no longer shocks me.
    He’s between a rock and a hard place for inciting the riot but advised not to pardon himself bc its admitting guilt that he initiated it.
    -He wanted a military goodbye which was DENIED
    -He wants a library named after him which was DENIED.
    -he refuse to pay his bills which is why no lawyer will touch him. And hes in desperate need for one for the list of charges he has to answer to when he’s out of office.
    Only in Trump World!

    • Sigmund says:

      He is not able to pardon himself for inciting the insurrection because he was impeached. The constitution provides almost no limitations on pardons, EXCEPT for impeachments.

      Even though the penalty for being impeached has yet to be handed down from the senate (which is what we are all waiting on), the house has already impeached him. This is exactly why it was smart to impeach him, even if he doesn’t get removed from office early.

      • Saucy&Sassy says:

        Sigmund, I was reading an article that I think was in The Atlantic written last July. They did a good job of going back to the comments made by Madison regarding pardons and impeachment. He definitely said if impeached by the House the President would no longer be able to pardon. We may have some very interesting lawsuits filed regarding the limitations to the pardon power after he’s out of office if he tries to pardon himself or others regarding the insurrection. I have to wonder if Cruz has been told he’ll be testifying at the Senate trial along with Hawley and well … too many to list.

    • Saucy&Sassy says:

      Peaches, I had read that he was denied the big send off, but last night on social media there was a copy of the invitations he’s sent out that invites people and tells them to bring five people with them. They have to arrive at Andrews between 6:00 a.m. and 7:15 a.m. And, they have to wear masks. I wonder how many people will arrive that early and bring anyone with them. I THINK that people have to be cleared before going onto a military base, so that may be why they are required to arrive so early. I hope no one shows up!

  18. Valerie says:

    Huh. And they say the left is part of the global elite…

  19. Sasha says:

    “The president was personally engaged with the details of specific cases, one person said.”
    Yeah, the financial details.