Trump wields pardon power as political weapon, rewarding loyalists and undermining prosecutors

Trump wields pardon power as political weapon, rewarding loyalists and undermining prosecutors

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Among the dozens of people who received pardons from President Trump this week were several who lied to investigators andobstructeda federal probe into the president’s links to Russia.

Some had personal connections to Trump or his most loyal backers. A handful were Republican lawmakers rewarded for fealty to the president after betraying the public trust. Others abused their authority in more violent ways, killing or injuring unarmed civilians.

Taken together, the rogues’ gallery of criminals receiving clemency this week showcased Trump’s willingness to exert raw political power for his own personal gain, handing out favors to friends at a time when he is seeking GOP support for his flailing bid to reverse his election loss.

In a process White House aides describe as ad hoc, many of the pardon seekers ended up on the president’s radar after conservative activists, television commentators or other friends of Trump made personal appeals on their behalf.