President Trump has become fixated on his ability to issue pardons, asking his aides to compile a list of candidates and stirring dissent in the West Wing with his seemingly celebrity-driven decisions. He may be on the verge of granting clemency to Alice Marie Johnson, as Kim Kardashian and Jared Kushner are advocating.
President Trump has become fixated on his ability to issue pardons, asking his aides to compile a list of candidates and stirring dissent in the West Wing with his seemingly celebrity-driven decisions, the Washington Post reports. Trump is strongly considering pardoning Alice Marie Johnson, 63, who is serving a life sentence for a nonviolent crime, after meeting with Kim Kardashian to discuss her case. The move is being resisted by his chief of staff and a top White House lawyer. The presidential pardon holds special resonance for Trump as an area where he has almost unchecked power as other aspects of his presidency, especially special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, are outside his control.
Trump entered the White House expecting to have few limits on his power, envisioning the presidency as more like his private business than a plodding bureaucracy. On pardons, he can act unchecked, and has floated the idea he has authority to pardon himself. A White House official said Trump is “obsessed” with pardons. He may sign a dozen in the next two months, this person added. “It’s all part of the show,” said Republican consultant Ed Rollins. “It’s not a rational or traditional process but about celebrity… ” A Johnson pardon could come soon. Trump’s aides see Kardashian’s celebrity imprimatur as crucial. The Johnson case has caused consternation in the West Wing, with chief of staff John Kelly and White House counsel Donald McGahn disturbed by the process. Kelly has reviewed Johnson’s background and conviction — she was sentenced to life for drug possession and money laundering — and is not convinced she deserves a pardon. Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and adviser who helped arrange the meeting with Kardashian in the Oval Office last week, has heavily pushed for a Johnson pardon.