As one of his last acts as President, Donald Trump has used his presidential pardon powers to issue 73 pardons and 70 commuted sentences on his final day in office. What is a pardon?
Presidents are granted certain pardoning powers that allow them to issue pardons for convictions under federal law.
The United States Constitution has interpreted this as also allowing the President to commute sentences.
Most presidential pardons are signed for by petitions, which get sent to the President who then has the choice of accepting or rejecting them.
It is very common for an outgoing President to issue multiple pardons and commutes on their last day in office.
Who did Trump pardon?
The biggest name on President Trump’s pardon list was that of Steve Bannon, his former chief strategist, who was awaiting trial after pleading not guilty for allegedly defrauding Trump-supporting donors in a campaign titled “We Build the Wall” after President Trump campaigned for a wall on the southern border in the run-up to the 2016 election.
The White House released a statement saying that Bannon was an “important figure in the conservative movement”.
Pardons were also granted to well known American rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black.
Lil Wayne, whose real name is Dwayne Michael Carter Jr, was convicted and pleaded guilty to a federal weapons-related charge and was awaiting a sentence before President Trump’s pardon.
Kodak Black, whose real name is Bill Kapri, has received a commute on his 46-month sentence after he was found guilty of making false and incorrect statements on a federal document when purchasing a firearm.
Also alongside the 70 commutes are former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who has currently served 7 years of a 28-year sentence for racketeering and bribery when he held public office.
Contrary to numerous reports suggesting he would do so; President Trump has not extended a pre-emptive pardon to himself for allegedly inciting an insurrection.
How does he compare to other presidents?
It is very normal for a President to order pardons and commutes on their last day in office, but where does Trumps’ stack up against the rest?
His predecessor, President Obama, ordered the commute of 330 prisoners on his second to last day in office, with a total of 1,927 people granted either a pardon or a commute during Obama’s time as President.
President Obama issued the highest number of pardons and commutes since Harry Truman, who issued just over 2,000.
However, when compared with the last three Presidents before Obama, just 736 pardons and commutes were issued by H.W Bush, Clinton, and W. Bush.
Presidential pardons are very common, and Trump using his powers to pardon and commute is a perfectly reasonable way for his presidency to conclude.