President Donald Trump’s pardon of former national security adviser Michael Flynn bolstered hopes of a wide array of clemency seekers of a wave of pardons and commutations before Jan. 20. Among those seeking pardons are former Trump campaign advisers Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos, who like Flynn were convicted in cases stemming from the special counsel’s Russia investigation, the New York Times reports. Trump is expected to use his authority in cases beyond the special counsel’s inquiry and the lengthy cast of associates who have been in legal trouble. Prof. Alan Dershowitz, who represented Trump during his impeachment trial, is advising two clients on clemency: a New Jersey man serving 20 years for defrauding investors, and a billionaire businessman convicted in a North Carolina government corruption scandal.
Groups that have pushed for a criminal justice overhaul are working with an ad hoc White House team under the direction of Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, with a goal of announcing as many as hundreds of commutations for offenders in prison for crimes ranging from nonviolent drug convictions to mail fraud and money laundering. “Lists of people are being circulated,” said Brandon Sample, a Vermont lawyer who specializes in presidential pardons and has submitted names of people to be considered. Trump aides and associates who have been convicted include Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, and Paul Manafort, his former campaign chairman. Other possibilities include former Trump strategist Stephen Bannon, who is charged with defrauding donors to a campaign to support plans to build a wall along the Mexican border, and Elliott Broidy, a top fund-raiser, who pleaded guilty in a foreign lobbying case. Activists see a blitz of late pardons for people without political connections as a way for Trump to build on his efforts to reform the criminal justice system.