Everyone was anticipating a big number of pardons on Donald Trump’s second to last day in office, but even some of the wilder estimates came up a bit short. The final figure (assuming there are no more this morning) came in a 143. That’s just one shy of a gross in mathematical terms, but not too many of the seriously gross ones came to fruition. The vast majority of them were people you’ve probably never heard of, including many people serving time for lower-level drug offenses. Don’t expect Trump to get much praise from the media for the “diversity” of his choices, however.
One of the big names that was widely anticipated did make the list, however. That would be Lil Wayne, the rapper and friend of Snoop Dog (or Snoop Lion or whatever his name is this week), who had been lobbying Donald Trump heavily to spring him loose. A couple of other entertainers made the list as well. (NY Post)
Lil Wayne, whose real name is Dwayne Michael Carter, pleaded guilty last month to a felony gun charge after authorities found a gold-plated pistol with a pearl grip in his private jet a year ago.
The rapper had yet to be sentenced and faced up to a decade behind bars — since he was already convicted of a felony gun charge in 2009.
In addition to the pardons, Trump issued commutations to 70 people, including Kwame Kilpatrick, the former mayor of Detroit who was serving a 28-year prison term on corruption charges, and rapper Kodak Black. Black, 23, who was born Bill Kahan Kapri, was sentenced to prison last year for making a false statement to buy a firearm.
I’ll confess to not knowing much about Lil Wayne beyond the details of his arrest, but that pardon and the one for Kodak Black are both disappointing. Trump is sending a parting message indicating that he really doesn’t take illegal gun crimes all that seriously. How are we expected to get gang violence under control when the government shows favor, or at least a lack of interest, toward people convicted of multiple gun charges and who appear to regularly extol a “gangster” lifestyle?
The pardon for Kilpatrick, the former Detroit Mayor, was also something of a let-down. Corrupt government officials who abuse their office to enrich themselves betray the trust of the public and should be viewed more harshly than those who seek to line their pockets through pedestrian means such as robbery. On the flip side of the coin, at least there was no pardon for either Sheldon Silver or Catherine Pugh, who I wrote about yesterday. That was a relief.
The other name that caught at least a few journalists off guard was Steve Bannon. As Allahpundit reported yesterday, Maggie Haberman was convinced that Trump was still holding a grudge against Bannon and didn’t intend to let him off the hook. But it seems that there was too much of a relationship there to simply abandon it and Steve cashed in his golden ticket.
Another point in Trump’s favor is that he failed to pardon either Julian Assange or Edward Snowden. Neither deserved it and both still have much to answer for, at least in my opinion. I don’t know if Joe Biden has any interest in pursuing charges against Assange (assuming we ever get to extradite him), but he shouldn’t just have his slate wiped clean. As for Snowden, anyone who steals a hard drive full of national security secrets and flees into the arms of Vladimir Putin doesn’t merit consideration.
With Donald Trump skipping the inauguration ceremony, it would appear that this list of pardons was his farewell note. It was a mixed bag, but pardons on the way out the door have been the norm for quite some time now and we probably shouldn’t have expected Trump to be any different.