The public should expect a “flurry” of pardons before President Donald Trump leaves office, a source close to the White House says, as has happened at the end of previous administrations.
This source, familiar with discussions on the matter, told CNN some of the President’s advisers believe that it would be perfectly fine for Trump to pardon his family members and other associates preemptively, even though they haven’t been charged with any crimes.
Trump’s allies in Congress and conservative media have said the President should pardon himself. And Trump has retweeted similar sentiments of self-preservation.
Some of the President’s advisers, the source said, believe that Trump could legally pardon himself – an assertion that’s disputed by some constitutional scholars.
The source close to the White House pointed to the case of President Gerald Ford’s pardon of President Richard Nixon, who resigned during the Watergate scandal. Nixon had not been charged with a crime when he was pardoned.
Trump White House
CNN reported on Tuesday that associates in Trump’s orbit, including his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, have approached the President to seek preemptive pardons.
The President has also been talking with advisers about preemptively pardoning several people close to him, including his children and son-in-law, the White House adviser Jared Kushner.
The potential pardon list includes others who are close to the President and could be legally vulnerable but have not been charged.
Donald Trump Jr., the President’s son, was under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller for contacts he had with Russians, but was never charged. And Kushner provided false information about his foreign contacts when applying for his security clearance, but Trump issued him one anyway.
It’s also not clear what potential criminal exposure Giuliani or other associates are attempting to preempt. But one first source familiar with the discussions went on to cite what friends and allies of the President see as hostility from the incoming Biden administration toward Trump associates.
Giuliani denied discussing a preemptive pardon.
The President has told advisers he thinks that he and his family have been unfairly targeted and that he’s concerned the legal pursuits could continue under the Biden Justice Department.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Wednesday afternoon she was not aware of reported discussions between Trump and his advisers about the preemptive pardons.
Nine individuals in Trump’s orbit, including his former national security adviser Michael Flynn and longtime friend Roger Stone, have been indicted or found guilty of crimes related to a constellation of alleged criminal conspiracies.
The pardoning discussions come on the heels of the President’s decision to grant Flynn a full pardon, absolving him of charges related to lying to federal agents over his contact with the Russian ambassador to the United States.
Flynn’s pardon was Trump’s second act of clemency related to prosecutions of advisers of the President. Earlier this summer, Trump commuted Stone’s sentence.
CNN’s Maegan Vazquez, Pamela Brown, Ali Main and Michael Warren contributed to this report.