Inside the frantic last-minute push to get Trump to pardon everyone

But even as Moore tries to lobby the president and senior staff, he realizes that Trump has his hands full and may not be receptive to this or other cases. “I’m a little worried that it might get crowded out,” Moore conceded.

This is a dilemma faced not just by friends of the president, but by numerous reform advocates who have worked, or tried to work, with this White House for the past four years. Activists on the issues of criminal justice reform and clemency widely view the Trump administration as—at best—a mixed bag when it comes to federal policy and rhetoric. Many are actively looking forward to working with the Biden administration instead, despite the president-elect’s past record. It is also unclear how much the outgoing president will end up delivering on these kinds of commutations and pardons, in large part because Trump is still consumed by pet grievances and his hopeless Rudy Giuliani-led legal effort to nullify Biden’s decisive 2020 win.

According to various activists and organization leaders who’ve spoken to The Daily Beast, their missions to reduce mass incarceration and advance reform have too often been impeded by Trump’s own ego.

“It has been common knowledge during this presidency that you would not get invited to certain meetings or events if your group wasn’t praising Trump enough in public,” said one reform advocate. “It happened all the time, and everyone knew it: if your group said something perceived to be too critical about this president, you risk being shut out of any White House roundtables or public events focused on reform. Groups that were publicly praising Trump ‘enough’ would always have a seat at the table.”