The Slatest

Trump Issues Late Night Pardons to 143 Fraudsters and Friends

A close-up of Trump laughing.
The joke continues. Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

Everyone was waiting for it, the final Trump pardon drop. How unhinged would the final list be? This is a president, after all, that relished the unilateralism of the office’s pardon power, and liked to wave the pardon wand liberally, especially when it came to forgiving his friends and allies. President Donald Trump never shied away from surrounding himself with miscreants and often seemed tickled by the most brazen attempts at criminality, seeming to deem them almost a form of counterculture, thumbing one’s nose at the man. As such, it seemed 100 percent plausible that this president would pardon Joe Exotic, the star character in the Netflix docuseries Tiger King, who was convicted of trafficking and killing tigers, not to mention trying to do the same to nemesis Carole Baskin. It didn’t happen for Joe Exotic (yet). But Trump did pardon former champaign chair Steve Bannon and dozens of others fraudsters.

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Trump, of course, has already pardoned former campaign advisers that had been convicted of a host of pretty serious federal crimes as a result of the Mueller investigation, including former campaign head Paul Manafort, freelance Trump friend and political operative Roger Stone, and one-time National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Bannon joined the list of Trump associates let off the hook, despite not have been tried yet for engaging in some super-Trumpy behavior. Bannon was charged with bilking Trump supporters that donated tens of millions of dollars to a private fundraising effort to assist border wall construction. Bannon is alleged to have redirected a million of the funds raised to cover his own personal expenses.

The final clemency tally for Tuesday night reached 143, including rapper Lil Wayne on a gun charge and GOP megadonor and former Republican National Committee national deputy finance chairman Elliott Broidy, who broke the law lobbying the Trump administration in return for millions from Malaysian and Chinese interests. Trump, who inexplicably commuted the sentence of disgraced Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich of Illinois last year, again showed his bipartisan affection for convicted criminals no matter their political persuasion. Trump commuted the sentence of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, a Democrat who was serving a 28-year sentence on corruption charges for enriching himself through a series of kickbacks and bid-rigging schemes during his term in office.

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Lots of fraudsters got off the hook on the final full day of Trump’s presidency. “Dr. Salomon E. Melgen, 66, a major Democratic donor and eye doctor who ran a series of clinics in Florida that fraudulently told Medicare patients that they had eye diseases and then performed medically unnecessary tests and procedures, falsely billing the federal government at least $42 million, according to prosecutors,” the New York Times reports. In a particularly Trumpy move, “Trump also granted clemency to Casey Urlacher, brother of former NFL star Brian Urlacher, who pleaded not guilty in March to charges that he helped run an illegal offshore gambling ring,” the Washington Post notes.

The notable absences from the Trump pardon list: himself, his children, his lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and anyone related to the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol. But Trump still has the pardon power until noon Wednesday, so who knows.

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