2 ways to get pardoned by Trump (Hint: Celebrity helps)

Donald Trump has issued four pardons in the year and a half of his presidency.News that Kim Kardashian West, o...

Posted: May 30, 2018 4:58 PM
Updated: May 30, 2018 4:58 PM

Donald Trump has issued four pardons in the year and a half of his presidency.

News that Kim Kardashian West, of all people, will visit the White House Wednesday to ask for another one, could bring his total to five.

We'll have to see if that new pardon request to a former reality star by the current doyenne of the form comes to be, and whether it leads to a larger effort on prison reform like the one being pushed by presidential family members/advisers Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, which passed the House and is currently being debated in the Senate.

But the news that Kardashian West will get a White House meeting with the President with the aim of a specific pardon request, according to Vanity Fair, comes less than a week after Trump posthumously pardoned boxer Jack Johnson, the first African-American heavyweight champ.

Trump issued that pardon with Sylvester Stallone, noted for his portrayal of boxers in movies, standing behind him.

The Johnson pardon, by the way, was passed over by two previous administrations despite lobbying from people like former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, but the request from Stallone got Trump's attention.

Perhaps Kardashian West will get his attention, too, as she will reportedly push for Trump to pardon for Alice Marie Johnson, who is serving a lifetime sentence and who wrote about her story for CNN earlier in May. Johnson describes her descent from happily married mother to participant in a drug conspiracy, albeit nonviolent, after the death of her child.

It's a heartbreaking tale and similar ones could probably be told from any US jail. The US has more than 20% of the world's prisoners, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

President Barack Obama granted nearly 2,000 clemencies -- usually choosing to commute sentences rather than issuing full pardons. Most, though not all, were for nonviolent drug offenders and they were spread over the course of his presidency. It led to a spike in applications and helped contribute to the growing national debate over prison reform that Trump could carry on.

Regardless of that larger effort, Trump has treated the power of the pardon much differently than his predecessors.

Where previous presidents waited until after their first midterm election to issue their first pardon, and would quietly issue batches of pardons of clemencies, Trump has so far issued them one at a time, and with great fanfare.

He's teased them on Twitter, as in the case of former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio and Johnson, touted them at campaign-style rallies, held ceremonies like the one with Stallone. He clearly enjoys the power to erase convictions. He has not yet issued a clemency, as Obama did for people like Chelsea Manning. But as Trump meets with Kardashian West to hear her case for Johnson, there are some lessons to extrapolate about the ingredients of a Trump pardon -- it needs to either help him make a political point or, barring that, have a celebrity backer.

Settling political scores

All three of Trump's first pardons had a distinctly political overtone.

Pardon 1 -- Arpaio was an early Trump backer and aided in pushing the conspiracy theory about Obama's birthplace.

Pardon 2 -- Navy submariner Kristian Saucier, who was convicted of misusing classified data and then unsuccessfully used the so-called "Clinton defense" to argue his crime was no worse than her treatment of classified email.

Pardon 3 -- Scooter Libby was the chief of staff to former Vice President Dick Cheney. Libby got clemency but no pardon from former President George W. Bush for lying to a special counsel investigating the Valerie Plame affair. Trump's pardon came as former campaign aides were cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia election meddling investigation. The Libby pardon also featured in the memoir recently released by fired FBI Director James Comey. Trump pardoned Libby days before the book's release. Maybe that's a coincidence. Probably not.

Righting wrongs with a celebrity assist

If Trump pardon Johnson after meeting with Kardashian West, it could create a new trend for Trump -- the pardon with a celebrity assist. Jack Johnson had Sylvester Stallone, who made the pitch to Trump. Alice Marie Johnson has Kim Kardashian West, whose husband Kanye recently made headlines for his support of Trump.

Presentation is everything in the Trump White House, even for pardons.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 490011

Reported Deaths: 6618
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1016821593
Ramsey43388811
Dakota36714394
Anoka33545392
Washington22247262
Stearns18847202
St. Louis14915265
Scott13445107
Wright12635116
Olmsted1187890
Sherburne879474
Carver790941
Clay696288
Rice678691
Blue Earth604435
Kandiyohi582274
Crow Wing523682
Chisago502945
Otter Tail487171
Benton451890
Winona419749
Mower411931
Douglas395068
Goodhue390169
Nobles387347
Polk345363
McLeod341950
Beltrami339151
Morrison328147
Itasca315346
Becker315143
Lyon314045
Isanti310056
Steele304311
Carlton300649
Freeborn287124
Pine283616
Nicollet263341
Todd250330
Brown249137
Le Sueur238620
Mille Lacs230047
Cass221424
Waseca211217
Meeker208534
Martin190829
Wabasha18733
Roseau181017
Hubbard161041
Houston158214
Dodge15464
Renville152940
Redwood147127
Fillmore14029
Pennington139816
Chippewa137035
Cottonwood136120
Wadena131520
Faribault125017
Aitkin119233
Sibley118310
Watonwan11838
Rock116314
Kanabec109120
Pipestone101924
Yellow Medicine97817
Murray9548
Jackson94710
Swift87818
Pope8185
Marshall78715
Stevens7478
Lake74318
Clearwater72014
Lac qui Parle68816
Wilkin67711
Koochiching62111
Big Stone5173
Lincoln5122
Grant4928
Norman4808
Unassigned45368
Mahnomen4437
Kittson41121
Red Lake3615
Traverse3115
Lake of the Woods2231
Cook1190

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 337836

Reported Deaths: 5500
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk52116562
Linn19519317
Scott17180213
Black Hawk14973294
Woodbury13858214
Johnson1317875
Dubuque12452196
Dallas1023593
Pottawattamie9899146
Story965445
Warren515176
Clinton502884
Cerro Gordo501483
Webster495888
Sioux480469
Marshall465473
Des Moines428661
Muscatine426493
Buena Vista413337
Wapello4059110
Jasper388167
Plymouth369178
Lee354653
Marion341772
Jones285355
Henry279837
Bremer270655
Carroll266848
Crawford253435
Boone244830
Benton241554
Washington239247
Mahaska215846
Jackson210339
Dickinson204340
Tama203165
Kossuth198655
Delaware186340
Clay184525
Winneshiek183729
Fayette179535
Page178119
Buchanan178029
Wright174531
Hamilton173942
Cedar172923
Hardin170339
Harrison167870
Clayton160154
Butler159331
Mills148520
Floyd148141
Poweshiek148030
Cherokee146336
Lyon145741
Allamakee144948
Madison143318
Iowa140723
Hancock138030
Grundy132530
Winnebago130531
Calhoun129711
Cass129751
Jefferson128534
Appanoose123447
Louisa122644
Mitchell120740
Chickasaw119915
Union119331
Sac118818
Shelby117634
Emmet115440
Humboldt113925
Franklin109719
Guthrie109728
Palo Alto101721
Howard99722
Unassigned9790
Montgomery97036
Clarke95220
Keokuk92429
Monroe90028
Ida82132
Adair81630
Pocahontas80919
Davis76623
Monona76527
Greene73110
Lucas72321
Osceola68315
Worth6678
Taylor64112
Decatur5719
Fremont5619
Van Buren53818
Ringgold50720
Audubon4769
Wayne47521
Adams3194
Rochester/St. Mary'S
Clear
51° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 51°
Mason City
Clear
49° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 45°
Albert Lea
Partly Cloudy
50° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 50°
Austin
Partly Cloudy
46° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 43°
Charles City
Partly Cloudy
50° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 50°
Prepare for a warmer but breezier Tuesday
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

IOOF Home in Mason City welcoming back visitors

Image

Sara's Monday Evening Forecast

Image

Pandemic impact on mental health

Image

Post Vaccine Freedom

Image

Third Stimulus Payment Eligibility

Image

Warm Weather Is Good News For Outdoor Dining

Image

03-08-2021 for Bri

Image

Minneapolis Prepares For Unrest As Chauvin Trial Starts

Image

Sean's Weather 3/8

Image

Rochester NAACP President calls for accountability

Community Events