WASHINGTON, D.C. – Call it “Pardon Day” for the president as Donald Trump gets ready to offer clemency to dozens of people before he leaves the White House Wednesday.
According to sources cited by CNN, Trump is preparing to grant about 100 pardons and commutations.
It’s not the longest list of pardons by a U.S. president but it may be one of the most controversial. Former President Barack Obama had granted more than 300 pardons in his final days at the White House, mostly to people serving mandatory sentences for low-level drug offences.
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However, Trump’s list includes many white collar criminals, rappers, and even a convicted eye doctor from Florida, who’s been serving time for health-care fraud.
In late December, the president pardoned a host of former aides and associates, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and the father of Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.
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Trump is considering a final round of pardons and clemencies that may be even closer to home. As Trump continues to face legal challenges, the prospect that he may try to pardon himself, other family members or senior aides remains the subject of internal White House discussion.
Heightened security in the capital
The pardons will come at a strange time in Washington, D.C., where there is a massive security presence to deal with threats of pro-Trump violence.
The streets have been emptied, with some describing the city as a ghost town, ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday.
More than 25,000 National Guard troops have been brought in to the capital for the event. Armoured vehicles are blocking intersections, there are endless spans of steel fencing, and soldiers everywhere.
There are also worries from the FBI about the possibility of an insider attack. This has prompted the agency to vet all of the National Guard members who will be in Washington for the inauguration.
To prevent an insider threat from guardsmen on security duty at the Capitol who may sympathize with far-right extremists, the army and FBI are working together.
So far, defense officials have said there is no evidence of any internal threats and that nothing has been flagged.