President Donald Trump may preemptively pardon as many as 20 aides and associates before leaving office, frustrating Republicans who believe offering legal reprieves to friends and family members could backfire, reports Politico. Trump is avoiding the typical protocol of processing cases through the Justice Department. He may argue that pardons for his friends and family members are necessary to spare them from paying millions in legal fees to fight what he describes as witch hunts. Those up for clemency include everyone from Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, to several members of his family — all people who haven’t been charged with a crime. Weighing on Trump’s mind is whether these pardons would look like an admission of guilt. Republicans are expressing some initial hesitation, but they’re not telling him to stop.
“That is in a category that I think you’d probably run into a lot of static,” said Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN). “That’s charting new territory, I’m guessing. I don’t think that’s ever been attempted before.” While the president has turned off some voters with controversial actions — including his past use of the pardon power to spare allies — he retains a loyal base and is mulling a 2024 presidential run. GOP senators said Trump would be stepping on political landmines if he grants clemency to his family and associates. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), a Trump ally and a former state attorney general, acknowledged that such a move by the president would be unprecedented.