President Trump issues 143 pardons - here are the most controversial names and those who missed out

On 20 January, the White House issued a statement which outlined who President Trump pardoned.

The outgoing president used his powers to issue pardons to 73 federal criminals, and commuted a further 70.

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The list includes key presidential aides, celebrities and politicians among others, however it did not include any of his family members.

This is the full list of criminals that were acquitted of their crimes, and who missed out.

What is a presidential pardon?

A presidential pardon is the act of completely lifting the punishment of a citizen for a US federal crime, ridding the person of their convictions.

A grant of clemency shortens or ends a convict’s sentence.

The president cannot pardon crimes against a state, having only the power to pardon offenses against the United States.

Pardoning is the highest level of clemency, followed by commutation. Other options include remission of fine or restitution, and reprieve.

Presidential pardons and clemency are rarely questioned or contested by the Supreme Court.

Who did President Trump include in his list of federal acquitals?

Steve Bannon

Trump’s former advisor has been granted a presidential pardon from fraud charges, relating to the far-right ‘Build a Wall’ campaign.

He was famously arrested on a yacht for his part in setting up a non-profit organisation which

received over $1million from the ‘We Build the Wall’ online campaign, which he used hundreds of thousands of to cover personal expenses, according to his prosecutors.

His pardon was justified by the White House, in a comment which read: “Mr. Bannon has been an important leader in the conservative movement and is known for his political acumen.”

Paul Erickson

Lawyer and Conservative operative Paul Erikson was arrested in relation to collusion with Russian officials - but was never charged with these offences.

Instead, he was charged with a lesser financial offence and received more than twice the Department of Justice’s recommended maximum sentence for his crime - seven years of incarceration.

The White House stated that his pardon was given in order to “help right the wrongs of what has been revealed to be perhaps the greatest witch hunt in American History.”

Anthony Levandowski

The Google engineer was sentenced to 18 months in prison for stealing information from the company relating to self-driving cars.

The pardon statement made reference to more than 13 Repullican supporters of the decision to grant clemency. According to the statement, Levandowksi had "paid a significant price for his actions and plans to devote his talents to advance the public good".

Lil Wayne

The famous rapper,whose real name is Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., was charged with federal weapon offences,including possession of a firearm in 2020.

Wayne had shared his support of Trump during the 2020 presidential election campaign, praising his efforts on prison reform.

The statement from the White House said: “Mr. Carter has exhibited this generosity through commitment to a variety of charities, including donations to research hospitals and a host of foodbanks.”

Salomon Melgen

The Palm Beach eye doctor has been convicted of dozens of accounts of healthcare fraud.

However, he was also allegedly involved in a dismissed corruption case against Democratic New Jersey Senator, Bob Menendez.

He was serving 17 years for fraud, but is also considered an influential and prominent activist in Florida and has now been pardoned.

The White House statement read: “Numerous patients and friends testify to his generosity in treating all patients, especially those unable to pay or unable to afford healthcare insurance.”

Which prominent names missed out on a pardon?

Despite 143 presidential grants of clemency, there were a few cases which had been largely speculated over in the run up to Trump’s last day in office.

Here are a few who never featured on the list:

Rudy Giuliani

Trump’s personal lawyer assisted the president in his claims of voter election fraud in the 2020 campaign, and now faces possible convictions.

Following Giuliani’s address at the 6 January rally which led to the Capitol riots, New York State Senator Brad Hoylman filed a complaint against Giuliani with the Attorney Grievance Committee of the First Judicial Department of the New York Supreme Court.

This could lead to a court case against the high-profile lawyer and it is largely expected that Trump will pardon him, however this proved not to be the case.

Joe Exotic

To many it was just an entertaining reality TV Netflix series, but Joe Exotic, AKA ‘Tiger King’ is currently serving a 22-year sentence for conspiracy to kill rival cat-keeper Carol Baskin.

Private investigator Eric Love, who leads Exotic’s legal team, ‘Team Tiger’, said prior to the pardons being issued that the team had planned to send a limo to collect the Netflix star from FMC Prison in Texas, according to The Sun.

Love was confident his client - whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage - would be pardoned, but he was wrong.

Julian Assange

Government whistleblower Julian Assange remains locked up in Belmarsh Prison, outside of London.

He faces extradition to the US over leaked documents which the US Justice Department claims were obtained illegally and posed a threat to national security.

Assange posted tens of thousands of pages of US documents uncovering confidential information about the Iraq War, the death of Baghdad civilians and Guantanamo Bay on WikiLeaks in 2010.

It was not expected that Trump would pardon Assange, due to his actions against a department of the US federal government.

Did Trump acquit himself of impeachment charges?

The president currently faces becoming the first president to be impeached twice.

The case is based on accusations he “incited” violence which led to the Capitol riots - though he deems his actions and those of the riots as legal.

The US Justice department considered it "under the fundamental rule that no one may be a judge in his own case,” when presiding over the possible presidential pardon of President Nixon in 1974.

However, leaders in US law stated that there is no rule that a president’s powers do not preclude his own pardon.

Trump did not pardon himself and will face the charges against him.

Is the 11th hour pardoning new?

No, but Trump’s approach to it was.

Usually, lawyers lobbying the president to pardon a criminal would approach the US Department of Justice.

Their case would then be put before the president and legal advice may be given at this stage.

However, those seeking acquittal approached President Trump’s office directly - addressing him and even phoning the White House in order to speak with him.

Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, reportedly answered phone calls from defence lawyers desperately pursuing their client’s clemency case prior to Trump’s departure from the White House

President Barack Obama pardoned or commuted 330 individuals in the 24 hours before he handed over to President Trump.

The record number included low level drug offenders serving mandatory sentences.

President George W. Bush commuted the sentences of two border agents in his final days in the White House, and told in his memoir ‘Decision Points’ how a rush of requests were submitted as he prepared to leave office.

He wrote: “One of the biggest surprises of my presidency was the flood of pardon requests at the end.

“I could not believe the number of people who pulled me aside to suggest that a friend or former colleague deserved a pardon. At first I was frustrated. Then I was disgusted.

"I came to see massive injustice in the system."