President Donald Trump is refusing to concede the 2020 election to President-elect Joe Biden, but once Trump moves to the acceptance stage of his defeat, the urgent business of presidential pardons is likely to surge to the top of his checklist before leaving office.
From campaign associates to members of his family — and even possibly himself — Trump could use his expansive pardon power to try to settle legal questions on his way out the door.
Current and former Trump administration officials say there’s been minimal preparation for an expected onslaught of clemencies, as Trump is still pursuing dubious legal challenges to the election. But his Twitter feed over the past three years offers a working list of where the President might turn to wield his pardon power — primarily toward those targeted by former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
Perhaps the biggest looming pardon question is whether Trump will consider granting himself a pardon, amid state investigations into his business and finances and the prospect of federal investigators scrutinizing him after he leaves office.
The fact that President Trump is considering issuing preemptive pardons to himself and family members for possible federal crimes should surprise no rational person, because during his time in office Trump has acted more like the boss of a criminal enterprise than the leader of the free world.