Trump is furious that Glenfiddich awarded a 'Top Scot' award to his archenemy
In news no one is surprised about, Donald Trump has started another feud — but this time, it's against whisky.
After news broke that the whisky producer, Glenfiddich, awarded a "Top Scot" award to Trump's nemesis, Michael Forbes. "Glenfiddich should be ashamed," Trump told the Guardian. "I hereby call for a boycott on drinking Glenfiddich products because there is no way a result such as this could have been made by the Scottish people."
Forbes infamously made an enemy out of Trump because he refused to sell his farm land to Trump to build a golf course, the Guardian reports. Of course, the producer behind Glenfiddich (as well as Hendrick's Gin, Virgin Vodka, and Milagro Tequila), William Grant & Sons, is also on Trump's list: Trump also claims that William Grant & Sons is "jealous" of his in-house single malt. (Yeah, we're guessing not.) William Grant & Sons responded that the award is voted for by the people of Scotland, and that Glenfiddich had nothing to do with the results. The statement reads: "In the history of these awards, we are not aware of the Top Scot award causing any offence or upset to anyone and it is not our intention to do so now. These awards were set up to give the people of Scotland a vote and we must respect their decision."
Oh Trump, when will you learn that it's not about you?
Donald Trump Is Accused Of Raping A 13-Year-Old. Why Haven't The Media Covered It?
If you’ve been anywhere near Facebook or Twitter in the past several months, you’re probably aware that there is a case working its way through the courts that accuses Donald Trump of raping a 13-year-old girl in 1994.
On Wednesday, the woman, who remains anonymous, was slated to appear at a press conference with her new attorney, Lisa Bloom, the daughter of Gloria Allred. Bloom wrote a column about the case in The Huffington Post last summer.
BREAKING: woman who sued Donald Trump for child rape breaks her silence today. https://t.co/ecbzZ6jxSU pic.twitter.com/kdCRsG7wIm&mdash Lisa Bloom (@LisaBloom) November 2, 2016
For months, people have wondered why this case isn’t getting more ― or, really, any ― attention in the press, even now that Trump faces an actual court date: a Dec. 16 status conference with the judge.
The allegations aren’t entirely implausible on their face. The accuser says Trump raped her repeatedly at parties thrown by since-convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who was widely known to throw wild parties with young women and girls. Epstein was convicted in 2008 of soliciting an underage girl for prostitution and served a small portion of an 18-year sentence.
In a New York magazine profile of Epstein before he went to prison, and long before Trump ran for president, Trump acknowledged that he knows Epstein. “I’ve known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy,’’ Trump says in the story. “He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it ― Jeffrey enjoys his social life.”
The lawsuit against Trump includes affidavits from two anonymous women who say they were witnesses. Yet there’s been little coverage of the case. As one of the media outlets that has not published much about it, I can say there are two main reasons we shied away.
The accuser is anonymous.
The accuser in this case is anonymous, and the suit is filed under a pseudonym in New York. A previous case filed in California used the name “Katie Johnson.” To accuse someone in print of forcibly raping a child is about as serious a charge as can be made. To do that with an anonymous accuser would be an extraordinary step, putting the journalist’s reputation on the line.
One senior national reporter who has covered both campaigns said that the anonymity was the main stumbling block. “If it’s something that’s this damaging to a candidate, you better be sure, and she’s anonymous,” the reporter said, asking for anonymity to talk openly about the decision-making process. “Look, if she came out and she would do an interview, that would be different, but she’s an anonymous plaintiff.”
To go forward with an anonymous source shifts responsibility for the veracity of the claims from the accuser to the reporter. If the person is named and on record, the reporter can argue that he or she is merely reporting what the person is saying, and people are free to believe her or not. But giving anonymity says something different to an audience. It suggests, I, as a journalist, have investigated this person and these charges, and find them sufficiently credible to bring them forward without a name attached. Especially in the wake of the Rolling Stone fiasco, that requires an extreme amount of confidence in the source.
And the way the case rolled out did not inspire that confidence.
The accuser’s public backers have been savaged in the press.
One of the leading organizers of the effort to get the press to pay attention to this case is Steve Baer, an outspoken Republican donor. Baer last made news when his effort to out an alleged affair between Reps. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) contributed to McCarthy dropping his bid to become House speaker. Baer’s style is to liberally cc and bcc an endless stream of powerful people, and it usually has the effect of getting none of them to listen.
When I wrote to him Monday night, for instance, to say I was going to write a story on why the media were avoiding the child rape story, he replied and cc’ed Washington Post Executive Editor Marty Baron, along with a host of other media figures.
And Baer, in fact, is among the more credible advocates the accuser has going for her.
The accuser initially filed the case on her own behalf in California, but it was tossed for not stating an articulable violation of her civil rights. The case has since been refiled in New York, under the representation of a patent lawyer named Thomas Meagher . A patent lawyer handling the case hasn’t inspired the most confidence. (He didn’t respond to a request for comment.)
The least credible backer has to be a man who may or may not be named Al Taylor, but is more likely named Norm Lubow, and was apparently a former producer for “The Jerry Springer Show.”
Media outlets that have tried to get in touch with Johnson have had extreme difficulty doing so. The Daily Beast did a deep dive into the case and the people supporting the accuser in July, and came to a devastating conclusion: “Far from derailing the Trump train, Katie Johnson and her supporters seem to be in an out-of-control clown car whose wheels just came off,” wrote Brandy Zadrozny.
The Guardian and Jezebel also looked into the situation and came up with equally unfavorable takes. A writer who actually talked to Johnson came away confused about what to make of the allegations. It’s unclear if anybody has managed to speak to Tiffany Doe or Joan Doe, the two witnesses cited in the case. “Jezebel, The Guardian and The Daily Beast effectively poisoned the well on Katie’s credibility,” Baer lamented to HuffPost, accurately.
If you’re still struggling to understand why the story didn’t get more coverage, imagine for a moment that you’re a reporter thinking about spending weeks looking into it. Then go read the Daily Beast article. Still ready to go down that rabbit hole?
But as the reality of the court date increasingly dawns on the press, coupled with Trump’s own admission that he sexually assaults women, the case is getting harder to ignore. Baer said that two media outlets have recently done interviews with Johnson, and stories could pop at any minute.
Erik Wemple, a media reporter at The Washington Post, said he hasn’t talked to many journalists about their decision to shy away from the story. “I can’t cover everything,” he said. “Around the spring, the Washington Post was getting hammered for assigning two dozen reporters to investigate Trump. I wrote a piece wondering whether that was anywhere near enough. It wasn’t, as it turns out.”
In some ways, given the role of Facebook in disseminating news, it matters less this cycle than any other previous one that the media have largely ignored the case. Open platforms, too, have helped the story circulate. The story that Bloom published on HuffPost’s contributor platform has been shared on Facebook 140,000 times. The piece has been viewed 5,221,475 times since June.
With Bloom’s planned press conference on Wednesday, things might have changed.
But Johnson’s appearance was canceled at the last minute because Bloom said her client had received threats and was afraid of appearing in public.
Press conference cancelled, Jane Doe has received numerous threats, afraid to show her face. -Lisa Bloom&mdash Matt Ferner (@matthewferner) November 2, 2016
Bloom: "We're going to have to reschedule. I have nothing further."&mdash Matt Ferner (@matthewferner) November 2, 2016
On Friday evening, Bloom announced that her client had instructed her to dismiss the lawsuit.
Jane Doe instructed us to dismiss her lawsuit against Trump and Epstein today. Tough week for her. We wish her well. https://t.co/dnwCRFrZM5&mdash Lisa Bloom (@LisaBloom) November 5, 2016
This story has been updated to note the cancellation of the press conference and the dismissal of the suit.
Everyone says the New York governor should quit. He says no.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo listens to speakers before getting vaccinated at the mass vaccination site at Mount Neboh Baptist Church in Harlem on March 17, 2021 in New York City. | Seth Wenig-Pool/Getty Images
Altitude is a column by POLITICO founding editor John Harris, offering weekly perspective on politics in a moment of radical disruption.
Everyone who follows New York politics, and even many people who ordinarily do not, has an opinion on the big question of the moment: Should New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo resign?
Not much attention is paid to a subsidiary question: Why should anyone care what you think about whether Cuomo should resign?
Certainly Cuomo doesn’t care. Or, more precisely, he doesn’t care if you think he must quit in the face of cascading allegations of sexual harassment, bullying and manipulation of data about nursing home deaths related to Covid-19. Presumably he would welcome your view if you happen to support his stated conviction that under no circumstances will he voluntarily leave office before his term is up.
There are very few prominent political leaders, however, who stand with him on that. Led by the state’s two Democratic senators — Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand — as well as state legislative leaders of both parties, a wave of voices is demanding Cuomo’s immediate resignation in disgrace.
Whether in sorrow or indignation, these voices speak with a righteous tone, as though the issue were simple. Yet it is only the question of Cuomo’s behavior — as illuminated by multiple credible allegations — that is simple: It is disturbing and foul. The question of fellow politicians trying to force a resignation through public pressure is complex — more so than Cuomo’s self-confident denouncers typically acknowledge — for three distinct reasons.
The first reason is obvious but easily obscured amid the smoke of scandal. Cuomo has power because a majority of New York voters gave it to him. As in federal government, there is a state constitutional procedure — impeachment — to take that power away. Preempting that process to pressure Cuomo to quit through coordinated expressions of disgust is what Schumer and prominent New York Democrats like Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jerry Nadler propose to do. But these voices deserve no special influence. They have an opinion. So do my high school friends in Rochester. So, for that matter, do I. But there is an anti-democratic presumption in politicians, without formal authority, telling another politician that he or she must go.
The second reason is more narrowly partisan. But, at least for some progressives, the question is acute: How come the resign-in-shame thing seems mainly to apply to Democrats and not Republicans? The list of sexual and manifold other transgressions confirmed or credibly alleged against Donald Trump that are as bad or worse than anything done by Cuomo is encyclopedic. After 2016, when establishment Republicans tried and failed to pressure him out of the race for the Access Hollywood tape, he never faced serious pressure from his party to resign.
One good answer to this question is that Democrats aspire to be the progressive party, not the reactionary one, so there is good reason for them to live by a more demanding double-standard. Still, it’s notable that a majority of average Democratic voters in New York, unlike most elected leaders, said in a Siena College poll they do not want Cuomo to resign and are satisfied with how he has addressed sexual misconduct allegations so far.
This double-standard leads to a third reason the Make-Cuomo-Quit campaign is murky, even as his behavior is deplorable. The political culture is in the midst of a highly disruptive moment when it comes to enforcement of standards of right and wrong. The reasons relate to a convergence of changing societal attitudes, political polarization and the transformative effect of social media.
In some ways, the muscles of public accountability have grown much stronger and more demanding. Sexual and racial misconduct, which in an earlier time was more likely to fester undisturbed in the shadows, is now finally being brought into the light.
At the same time, other muscles of accountability have atrophied in alarming ways. As a general rule, as long as a politician can maintain a base of support — usually animated by people who dislike his or her accusers more than the alleged transgression — it is easier than ever to escape serious consequences.
It is a fluid moment in public ethics — reason enough to be cautious in laying down the law about what should happen individual cases.
It’s also true that every scandal has its own context and can’t be conflated with another. Yet Cuomo’s team is understandably invoking the case of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. When a photo emerged that purported to show him during the 1980s in black face costume — after a confused early response, he said the photo wasn’t of him — many influential Democrats and The Washington Post were united in saying he must go. For a few days that looked inevitable. Then, Northam did what Cuomo is trying to do — change the dynamic by making clear he’s not resigning, period. With ten months left in his term, the scandal seems mostly forgotten. Meanwhile, former Sen. Al Franken and many of his supporters wish he had implemented the Northam strategy.
Schumer, Gillibrand and peers are bringing the ethos of an earlier age to a contemporary scandal. In an earlier age, once a critical mass of elites reached a consensus judgment that a politician was outside the bounds of acceptable behavior, there was no reasonable escape. This was the dynamic when Barry Goldwater and other Republican senators went to the Oval Office in 1974 to tell Richard Nixon his time was up. It was a similar dynamic that caused Gary Hart to give up his presidential campaign in 1987, once The Washington Post’s Ben Bradlee sent word through an emissary that the paper was ready to publish more disclosures about extramarital affairs unless he dropped out.
In that generation, the choice was to either resign or throw oneself on the mercy of the court of public opinion. In this generation, Trump and other politicians have shown there is another choice: Contemptuously challenge the legitimacy of any court that would presume to judge you, and take advantage of the reality that there is no elite consensus that transcends partisan and ideological divides on any subject.
Cuomo’s thought bubble isn’t hard to read: Hey, what worked for Trump might work for me.
That seems unlikely, but if he wants to give it a try, it is only a formal impeachment that can stop him.
President Joe Biden was actually quite artful when ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked him about Cuomo the other day. He seemed on the surface to be endorsing resignation — but that’s only if an investigation confirms that sexual harassment allegations are true. In other words, the outcome should depend on a process guided by either the state legislature or the criminal justice system.
It would be a reasonable decision if Cuomo announced that his problems were too serious and too much of distraction for him to remain in office. But the era when other politicians or the media can use public pressure alone to impose that judgment is likely over.
President’s Sister Describes Trump as Liar With ‘No Principles’ in Recordings
In a series of recordings published by The Washington Post, Maryanne Trump Barry can be heard disparaging her brother’s performance as president.
WASHINGTON — Maryanne Trump Barry, President Trump’s older sister and a former federal judge, described him as a liar who has “no principles” in a series of audio recordings made by her niece, Mary L. Trump, in 2018 and 2019.
The recordings were provided to The Washington Post, which published them online Saturday night. In the recording, Ms. Barry can be heard disparaging her brother’s performance as president.
“His goddamned tweet and the lying, oh, my God,” she says in one of the recordings posted by the newspaper. “I’m talking too freely, but you know. The change of stories. The lack of preparation. The lying.”
Ms. Trump is the author of the recently published book, “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.” In it, she recounted how Mr. Trump’s upbringing turned him into what she called a reckless leader.
The audio recordings contain observations from Ms. Barry that do not appear in Ms. Trump’s book. According to The Post, Ms. Trump secretly recorded 15 hours of face-to-face conversations with Ms. Barry about the president and his upbringing. The paper said Ms. Trump provided transcripts and audio excerpts.
In a statement provided by a White House spokesman, Mr. Trump dismissed the accusations and referred to the recent death of his younger brother, Robert S. Trump. “Every day it’s something else, who cares,” the president said. “I miss my brother, and I’ll continue to work hard for the American people. Not everyone agrees, but the results are obvious. Our country will soon be stronger than ever before.”
In one conversation published by The Post, Ms. Barry tells Ms. Trump what ended up being one of the most explosive allegations in the book by the president’s niece: that Mr. Trump cheated to get into college by having someone else take the SAT for him.
“He went to Fordham for one year and then he got into University of Pennsylvania because he had somebody take the exams,” Ms. Barry told Ms. Trump. “SATs or whatever. That’s what I believe,” she said.
Ms. Barry, who was appointed to the federal bench by Ronald W. Reagan, says in one conversation that the president helped her get that appointment by asking his lawyer, Roy Cohn, to urge Mr. Reagan to appoint more female judges. Ms. Barry says the president once said to her, “Where would you be without me?”
“You say that one more time and I will level you,” Ms. Barry said she told her younger brother at the time. She said she was angry that he was trying to “take credit” for her accomplishments as a judge.
Ms. Barry has refrained from commenting publicly about her brother during his presidency, but the audio recordings make it clear that she does not approve of his actions or his character. In one recording, she calls him “a brat.” In another, she says he “doesn’t read.”
The Post says that in one conversation, the audio of which was not posted on its website, Ms. Barry criticized the Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant children from their parents when they tried to cross the border from Mexico.
“All he wants to do is appeal to his base,” Ms. Barry told Ms. Trump, according to the paper. “He has no principles. None. None. And his base, I mean my God, if you were a religious person, you want to help people. Not do this.”
In Donald Trump’s Purgatory
The Editorial Board
House Republicans ousted Liz Cheney from their leadership on Wednesday, but the GOP’s Donald Trump problem continues. They can’t win without his voters, but they also will struggle to win if the former President dominates the party and insists on re-fighting the 2020 election for the next four years.
Ms. Cheney was purged on a voice vote that was so overwhelming that no one even asked for a recorded tally. Her offense was challenging—too vocally for GOP comfort—Mr. Trump’s claims that the 2020 election was stolen and that the attempt to overturn the Electoral College vote on Jan. 6 was constitutional and warranted.
Many Republicans privately agree with Liz Cheney on both points, but they don’t want to get into a public fight with Mr. Trump. They want House leaders to focus on resisting the Biden agenda, and they think Ms. Cheney’s insistence on publicly rebutting Mr. Trump’s falsehoods was a distraction. She can now say what she wants as a backbencher.
But the GOP problem is less that Ms. Cheney won’t let Mr. Trump go than that Mr. Trump won’t let 2020 go. He can’t accept that he lost, so he’s busy rewriting history to convince everyone he was cheated. He’s making that claim a litmus test for GOP leaders or for candidates who want his endorsement.
That may please the Trump base but it won’t appeal to the swing voters the GOP needs to retake the House and Senate. Mr. Trump’s claim that he was cheated in November is the main reason the GOP lost two Georgia Senate seats in the Jan. 5 runoff. Trump voters stayed home after Mr. Trump told them their votes didn’t count. The pre-election polling and voter turnout couldn’t be clearer about this. Joe Biden’s agenda would be stalled now if Mr. Trump had put the party first after his defeat.
Three questions about Donald Trump
1. Is Donald Trump under investigation?
For almost the first time in his presidency, the answer appears to be no. The first two years of his administration were defined by the looming investigation of the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who in March 2019 wrapped up his report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. Mr. Mueller did not reach a conclusion on whether Mr. Trump illegally obstructed justice, but found no evidence of a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Mr. Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives months after the Russia investigation concluded, for seeking to pressure Ukraine to smear his political rivals. In February, after five months of hearings, Mr. Trump was acquitted in the Senate, along party lines, of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
2. Will Mr. Trump’s re-election hinge on the virus?
Many aides and allies have been making the case to Mr. Trump that he is no longer running against a political opponent, but rather against the virus, and that his re-election in November depends on convincing voters that his administration’s response saved lives.
Through daily White House news conferences, Mr. Trump has been trying to reshape the narrative and convince voters that his response to the health crisis was adequate, despite the fact that he repeatedly played down the threat of the virus and was slow to absorb the scale of the risk. He has also been eager to restart the economy, so that he can claim credit for the economic gains that he was running on before the virus washed them away, while pinning the blame for the spread of the virus elsewhere, like on China or the World Health Organization.
3. How much is Donald Trump worth?
Mr. Trump, famous for telling falsehoods and making inflated claims about himself, has long claimed to be a billionaire. The question of how much Mr. Trump is really worth has been a moving target, and one he refuses to answer. He has continued to refuse to release his tax returns, and it’s now a battle being fought in the courts.
He has tried to shield his tax returns from Manhattan state prosecutors, an effort that was rejected by a federal judge. The Justice Department has helped his attempt to block a subpoena demanding the release of eight years of his personal and corporate tax returns.
Full list of Trump's last-minute pardons and commuted sentences
With only hours to go before leaving office, President Donald Trump pardoned 74 people and commuted the sentences of 70 others.
A list of 143 people, made public early Wednesday morning, included his former chief strategist and longtime ally Steve Bannon as well as his former top fundraiser Elliott Broidy. Then, with less than an hour to go before President-elect Joe Biden was set to be sworn in, Trump granted one last pardon: to Albert J. Pirro, Jr., the ex-husband of Fox News host and longtime ally Jeanine Pirro.
Here are some of the most notable names:
Alex Adjmi: Adjmi was granted a full pardon. The White House said Adjmi was convicted of a financial crime in 1996 and served 5 years in prison.
Fred Keith Alford: Alford received a full pardon. The White House said he was convicted in 1977 for a firearm violation and served one year’s unsupervised probation.
Michael Ashley: Ashley was convicted for bank fraud over the 2009 collapse of mortgage company Lend America and sentenced to 3 years in prison in 2019. He was the executive vice president and chief business strategist with the company. Ashley was ordered to pay $49 million in restitution and $800,000 in forfeiture. His sentence was commuted.
Stephen K. Bannon: Trump's former chief strategist in the White House was in charge of the final months of his 2016 presidential campaign and was indicted in August along with three others on wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy charges. Prosecutors alleged that Bannon’s crowdfunding “We Build the Wall” campaign raised more than $25 million from Trump supporters and used hundreds of thousands for personal expenses. He was taken into custody by U.S. Postal Inspection Service agents while on board the yacht of Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui. Bannon received a full pardon and now will not have to face a trial.
Lynn Barney: Trump granted a full pardon to Lynn Barney, who was sentenced to 35 months in prison for possessing a firearm as a previously convicted felon, after having previously been convicted for distributing a small amount of marijuana, according to the White House.
David Barren: Trump commuted the sentence of David Barren, who was sentenced to life in prison in addition to 20 years for a drug conspiracy charge. In 2017, President Barack Obama commuted his life term to a 30-year sentence. The White House said Barren is a father of six children and has maintained an exemplary prison record. A petition advocating for further clemency for Barren’s release has garnered nearly 20,000 signatures.
Dr. Faustino Bernadett: Bernadett, a retired anesthesiologist, was sentenced last year to 15 months in federal prison for taking part in a long-running health care fraud scheme where he authorized sham contracts that concealed over $30 million in illegal kickback payments to physicians, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The overall scheme resulted in more than $900 million in fraudulent bills being submitted, the office said. The White House said Bernadett has spent the past year “devoted to helping protect his community from Covid-19.” He received a full pardon.
Carl Andrews Boggs: Trump granted a full pardon to Carl Andrews Boggs. In 2014, Boggs pleaded guilty to federal charges stemming from a criminal investigation into the illegal use of a disadvantaged business enterprise to obtain government-funded construction contracts. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the department of transportation and one count of money laundering conspiracy.
Kristina Bohnenkamp: Trump commuted the sentence of Kristina Bohnenkamp. According to the White House, she has served more than 10 years of a 24-year sentence for a non-violent drug offense.
Todd Boulanger: Trump granted a full pardon to Todd Boulanger, who is a former deputy to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. In 2009, he pleaded guilty to conspiring with others to commit honest services fraud, according to the Department of Justice. Boulanger, Abramoff and other lobbyists working with them sought to advance the interests of groups and companies they represented by lobbying federal legislative and executive branch officials, the department said.
Jonathon Braun: Braun imported marijuana worth approximately $1.76 billion, from 2008 to 2010, according to Customs and Border Protection documents, including 2,200 pounds in a single incident. He pleaded guilty in 2011 and served five years of a 10-year sentence for conspiracy to import marijuana and to commit money laundering. Trump commuted his sentence.
Elliott Broidy: Broidy, a former Republican National Committee finance chair and one of Trump's top fundraisers, was pardoned. Broidy pleaded guilty in October to conspiring to violate foreign lobbying laws. Prosecutors said that the scheme aimed to have the Trump administration sink an investigation into the multibillion-dollar looting of a Malaysian state investment fund.
Dwayne Michael Carter Jr.: Carter, a rapper who performs as Lil Wayne, was also granted a pardon. He pleaded guilty in December to a federal weapons charge after he carried a handgun from California to Florida on his private jet. Due to past felony convictions, he is barred under federal law from possessing firearms. The charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years. Carter has frequently expressed support for Trump and recently met with the president on criminal justice issues.
Randall “Duke” Cunningham: Another ex-member of Congress, the California Republican was sentenced to 8 years in prison for bribery and was released in 2013. He received a conditional pardon.
Paul Erickson: Erickson, a conservative operative with ties to the NRA, came under scrutiny during the investigation into Russian election interference. He pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering in an unrelated case.
Rodney Nakia Gibson: Convicted of drug trafficking in 2009, Gibson served more than 11 years in custody, according to the White House. His commutation was supported by Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and the Office of the Pardon Attorney. The details of his conviction couldn’t be independently verified.
George Gilmore: This former local GOP chairman was convicted in April 2019 of failing to pay payroll taxes and for making false statements on a bank loan application. In an appeal, Gilmore claimed that a “hoarding” disorder made him spend lavishly on personal expenses rather than make timely payments to the IRS. His pardon was supported by former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie among others.
Deborah, Gregory and Martin Jorgensen: In the 1980s, the Jorgensens marketed and sold processed beef as heart-healthy, antibiotic-free and hormone-free. When demand outstripped their supply of beef, they mixed in commercial beef trim that usually used to make hamburgers, without telling their customers. They were convicted in 1996 of several counts, including conspiracy and fraudulent sale of misbranded meat. Martin Jorgensen passed away in 2019, and was married to Deborah Jorgensen. Gregory Jorgensen is their son.
Bill K. Kapri: Kodak Black, whose legal name is Bill Kapri, was sentenced to 46 months in prison on federal weapons charges in 2019 after admitting that he falsified information on federal forms to buy four firearms. The rapper obtained three guns: a 9mm handgun, a .380-caliber handgun and a semi-automatic Mini Draco weapon. He received a pardon.
Kwame Kilpatrick: The former mayor of Detroit had his 28-year sentence commuted. He pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and resigned from office as part of a plea deal in 2008 following a pay-to-play scheme in which Kilpatrick and his father took kickbacks and bribes to steer city business to certain contractors. He initially served 99 days in prison but then served an additional year for violating his probation and was released in 2011.
Kenneth Kurson: Trump granted clemency to Kurson, the former editor of the New York Observer and friend of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner who was charged last October with cyberstalking during a heated divorce.
Anthony Levandowski: Levandowski, a former Google engineer who was sentenced for stealing a trade secret on self-driving cars months before he briefly headed Uber Technologies Inc's rival unit, was also pardoned.
Salomon Melgen: Trump commuted the prison sentence of Melgen, an eye doctor and major Democratic donor convicted of defrauding Medicare patients. He stood trial with New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, who lobbied Trump for Melgen's case.
Desiree Perez: Perez was arrested in 1994 for drug possession and in 1998 for grand larceny and possession of a firearm. In 2019, she was named CEO of Roc Nation, the entertainment company founded by rapper-turned-mogul Jay-Z.
Albert J. Pirro, Jr.: With less than an hour to go before Biden is sworn in, Trump granted a full pardon to Albert J. Pirro, Jr. Pirro, Jr., the ex-husband of Fox News host and Trump ally Jeanine Pirro, was convicted on conspiracy and tax evasion charges in 2000.
Rick Renzi: Former U.S. Rep. Rick Renzi, R-Ariz., was granted a full pardon. In 2013, he was sentenced to three years in prison for extortion, bribery, insurance fraud, money laundering and racketeering in a public corruption case. He had served three terms in the House.
Aviem Sella: An Israeli citizen, Sella was indicted in March 1987 on charges he recruited convicted American spy Jonathan Jay Pollard to collect U.S. military secrets for Israel. Trump granted him a full pardon and his request was supported by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S. and the U.S. ambassador to Israel.
Brian Simmons: Trump commuted the sentence of Brian Simmons, who has served 5 years of a 15-year sentence for nonviolent conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana.
Syrita Steib-Martin: Syrita Steib of New Orleans, received a full pardon after being convicted at the age of 19 of using fire to commit a felony. Steib now serves as executive director and co-founder of Operation Restoration, which works to create education and work opportunities for formerly incarcerated women.
Patrick Lee Swisher: Patrick Swisher of Charlotte, North Carolina, was granted a full pardon after being convicted in 2002 of tax fraud and false statements and serving 18 months in prison. Previous to this, the Securities and Exchange Commission had charged his company with accounting fraud in 2001. Swisher now works as CEO of a company at which he employs more than 1,000 individuals, according to the White House.
David Tamman: Trump granted a full pardon to David Tamman, who was a partner at a law firm when he doctored financial documents at the behest of a client who was perpetrating a Ponzi scheme. According to the Department of Justice, the scheme ultimately took $22 million from victims. Tamman was found guilty of 10 counts that included obstruction of justice, altering records in a federal investigation, and being an accessory after the fact to the fraud scheme. He was convicted in 2013 and completed his seven-year sentence in 2019.
Casey Urlacher: Urlacher was pardoned after being named in a grand jury indictment in 2020 and being accused of helping to run an illegal offshore gambling business. Urlacher faced two counts in the case, each of which had carried a potential prison sentence of five years. He currently serves as the mayor of Mettawa, Illinois and is the brother of former Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher.
Monstsho Eugene Vernon: Vernon had his sentence commuted after serving 19 years in prison. Vernon committed numerous armed bank robberies in Greenville, South Carolina. The White House said that some of these offenses involved Vernon carrying BB guns as opposed to genuine firearms.
Blanca Virgen: Blanca Virgen was convicted of drug charges, and has served 12 years of a 30-year sentence. Virgen featured on the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers trial penalty clemency project which described her as “a model prisoner” and highlighted her desire to return to Mexico to care for her children.
Jerry Donnell Walden: Convicted in 1998 of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, Walden was sentenced to 40 years in prison. President Trump has commuted Walden’s sentence, 23 years into his incarceration.
John Harold Wall: Wall was granted a full pardon after being convicted of aiding and abetting possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine in 1992. According to the White House, he completed a 60 month prison sentence with 4 years’ supervised release.
William Walters: A retired professional gambler, Las Vegas-based William Walters had been sentenced to prison for five years in 2017 for conspiring to commit insider trading from at least 2008 through 2014. Walters, who was 70 at the time of his conviction, was also ordered to pay a $10 million fine. Trump’s commutation of the sentence was supported by former Majority Leader Harry Reid and golfer Phil Mickelson, among others. The New York Times reported that this pardon was brokered by John Dowd, Trump's former personal lawyer, who was hired by Walters to exert his influence on Trump
Eliyahu Weinstein: Weinstein, from Lakewood, New Jersey, has been pardoned whilst serving his eighth year of a 24-year sentence for a real estate investment fraud as well as money laundering charges. His commutation was supported by former U.S. Attorney Brett Tolman, former Representative Bob Barr, and Alan Dershowitz, among others.
Shalom Weiss: Weiss was pardoned 18 years into an 835-year sentence — believed to be the longest-ever white-collar prison sentence — for his role in setting up an insurance fraud scheme. He received support from Alan Dershowitz and Jay Sekulow, who sent letters to Trump.
Tom Leroy Whitehurst: The White House has said that Whitehurst was serving a life sentence in prison for leading a conspiracy to manufacture at least 16.7 kilograms of methamphetamine and possessing numerous firearms during the course of the conspiracy. His sentence has been commuted to 30 years, of which he’s served 24.
Caroline Yeats: The White House has said that Yeats’s 20-year sentence has been commuted. She has served almost 7 years of it and is a first-time, non-violent drug offender.
Chris Young: Young was pardoned for his non-violent drug offense in a conspiracy case and had served over 10 years of the sentence. He has initially been given a life sentence. Kim Kardashian West had been advocating for his release.
Robert "Bob" Zangrillo: Robert Zangrillo was pardoned for his role in the 2019 college admissions scandal. Zangrillo, the CEO of a private investment firm in Miami, FL, was accused of bribing employees from the University of Southern California’s athletics department to secure his daughter’s college place. He was charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.
Here is the full list, as provided by the White House:
Abel Holtz — President Trump granted a full pardon to Abel Holtz. This pardon is supported by Representative Mario Diaz-Balart and friends and business colleagues in his community. Mr. Holtz is currently 86 years old. In 1995, he pled guilty to one count of impeding a grand jury investigation and was sentenced to 45 days in prison. Before his conviction, Mr. Holtz, who was the Chairman of a local bank, never had any legal issues and has had no other legal issues since his conviction. Mr. Holtz has devoted extensive time and resources to supporting charitable causes in South Florida, including substantial donations to the City of Miami Beach.
Jaime A. Davidson — President Trump commuted the sentence of Jaime A. Davidson. This commutation is supported by Mr. Davidson’s family and friends, Alice Johnson, and numerous others. In 1993, Mr. Davidson was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in relation to the murder of an undercover officer. Notably, witnesses who testified against Mr. Davidson later recanted their testimony in sworn affidavits and further attested that Mr. Davidson had no involvement. Although Mr. Davidson has been incarcerated for nearly 29 years, the admitted shooter has already been released from prison. Following the commutation of his sentence, Mr. Davidson will continue legal efforts to clear his name. In addition, while incarcerated, Mr. Davidson mentored and tutored over 1,000 prisoners to help them achieve their GED certificates. Mr. Davidson has earned praise from prison officials for his dedication to helping others.
James E. Johnson, Jr. — President Trump granted a full pardon to James E. Johnson, Jr. In 2008, Mr. Johnson pled guilty to charges related to migratory birds. Mr. Johnson received 1 year probation, was barred from hunting during that period, and a $7,500 fine was imposed. Throughout his life, Mr. Johnson has made numerous contributions for the conservation of wildlife.
Tommaso Buti — President Trump granted a full pardon to Tommaso Buti. Mr. Buti is an Italian citizen and a respected businessman. He is the Chief Operating Officer of a large Italian company and has started a successful charitable initiative to raise funds for UNICEF. More than 20 years ago, Mr. Buti was charged with financial fraud involving a chain of restaurants. He has not, however, been convicted in the United States.
Jawad A. Musa — President Trump commuted the sentence of Jawad A. Musa. In 1991, Mr. Musa was sentence to life imprisonment for a non-violent, drug-related offense. Mr. Musa’s sentencing judge and the prosecutor on the case have both requested clemency on his behalf. He is currently 56-years old. During his time in prison, Mr. Musa has strengthened his faith and taken dozens of educational courses. Mr. Musa is blessed with a strong supportive network in Baltimore, Maryland and has numerous offers of employment.
Adriana Shayota — President Trump commuted the sentence of Adriana Shayota. Ms. Shayota has served more than half of her 24 month sentence. The Deputy Mayor of Chula Vista, California, John McCann, supports this commutation, among other community leaders. Ms. Shayota is a mother and a deeply religious woman who had no prior convictions. She was convicted of conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods, commit copyright infringement, and introduce misbranded food into interstate commerce. During her time in prison, Ms. Shayota mentored those who wanted to improve their lives and demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to rehabilitation.
Glen Moss — President Trump granted a full pardon to Glen Moss. After pleading guilty in 1998, Mr. Moss has been a vital member of his community. Mr. Moss has been committed to numerous philanthropic efforts at the national level, including St Jude's Hospital for Children, Breast Cancer Awareness, and the Colon Cancer Foundation. Within his community, he has contributed to Danbury Hospital and Ann's Place, a community-based cancer support center.
Michael Liberty — President Trump granted a full pardon to Michael Liberty. Mr. Liberty’s request for clemency is supported by Representative Susan Austin, Matthew E. Sturgis, and Anthony Fratianne. In 2016 Mr. Liberty was convicted for campaign finance violations and later was indicted for related offenses. Mr. Liberty is the father of 7 children and has been involved in numerous philanthropic efforts.
Greg Reyes — President Trump granted a full pardon to Greg Reyes. This pardon is supported by Shon Hopwood, former United States Attorney Brett Tolman, and numerous others. Mr. Reyes was the former CEO of Brocade Communications. Mr. Reyes was convicted of securities fraud. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, however, threw out his convictions, finding prosecutorial misconduct. He was later retried, convicted, and sentenced to 18 months in Federal prison. Mr. Reyes has accepted full responsibility for his actions and has been out of prison for more than 8 years.
Ferrell Damon Scott — President Trump commuted the sentence of Ferrell Damon Scott. This commutation is supported by former Acting United States Attorney Sam Sheldon, who prosecuted his case and wrote that he “… strongly does not believe that [Mr. Scott] deserves a mandatory life sentence.” Ms. Alice Johnson, the CAN-DO Foundation, and numerous others also support clemency for Mr. Scott. Mr. Scott has served nearly 9 years of a life imprisonment sentence for possession with intent to distribute marijuana. Under today’s sentencing guidelines, it is likely that Mr. Scott would not have received such a harsh sentence.
Jeffrey Alan Conway — President Trump granted a full pardon to Jeffrey Alan Conway. Mr. Conway’s pardon is strongly supported by his business partners Gary N. Solomon and Ely Hurwitz, members of law enforcement, and numerous other members of the community. Since his release from prison, Mr. Conway has led a successful life and currently runs 10 restaurant businesses that employ nearly 500 people. Mr. Conway is active in his community and in various philanthropic efforts.
Benedict Olberding — President Trump granted a full pardon to Benedict Olberding. Mr. Olberding was convicted on one count of bank fraud. Mr. Olberding is an upstanding member of the community who has paid his debt to society. After completing his sentence, he purchased two aquarium stores, as well as a consulting business to train prospective mortgage brokers.
Lou Hobbs — President Trump commuted the sentence of Lou Hobbs. Mr. Hobbs has served 24 years of his life sentence. While incarcerated, Mr. Hobbs completed his GED as well as various other education classes. Mr. Hobbs is dedicated to improving his life and is focused on his family and friends who have assisted him during difficult times.
Matthew Antoine Canady — President Trump commuted the sentence of Matthew Antoine Canady. This commutation is supported by Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and the Office of the Pardon Attorney. Mr. Canady had an unstable childhood and all of his prior drug-related convictions occurred during his teenage years. Mr. Canady worked hard to move beyond his challenging circumstances and has demonstrated extraordinary rehabilitation while in custody. He has maintained clear conduct while incarcerated and has notably taken advantage of significant vocational programs, including an electrical apprenticeship. He receives “outstanding” work reports and is described as “hardworking” and “respectful” by the Bureau of Prisons staff. Mr. Canady takes full responsibility for his criminal actions and would like to find gainful employment to help support his children.
Mario Claiborne — President Trump commuted the sentence of Mario Claiborne. This commutation is supported by Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and the Office of the Pardon Attorney. Mr. Claiborne is serving life imprisonment and has already served more than 28 years in prison. For more than 20 years, Mr. Claiborne has maintained clear conduct. Mr. Claiborne currently works for a UNICOR facility and has completed rehabilitative programming, including drug education.
Luis Fernando Sicard — President Trump commuted the sentence of Luis Fernando Sicard. This commutation is supported by Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and the Office of the Pardon Attorney. Mr. Sicard was sentenced in 2000 for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and possession of a firearm during and in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. He has served 20 years with clear conduct. Mr. Sicard has participated in substantial programming, including a number of vocational courses. Currently, Mr. Sicard works in the camp vehicular factory and previously worked in UNICOR earning “outstanding” work reports, and he also volunteers in the inmate puppy program. Importantly, Mr. Sicard takes full responsibility for his criminal actions. Mr. Sicard is a former Marine and father of two girls.
DeWayne Phelps — President Trump commuted the sentence of DeWayne Phelps. This commutation is supported by Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and the Office of the Pardon Attorney. Mr. Phelps has served 11 years in prison for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. He has served over a decade in prison with clear conduct, has trained as a dental apprentice, participated in UNICOR, and is noted as being a reliable inmate capable of being assigned additional responsibilities. Most notably, Mr. Phelps’s sentence would unquestionably be lower today under the First Step Act.
Isaac Nelson — President Trump commuted the sentence of Isaac Nelson. This commutation is supported by Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and the Office of the Pardon Attorney. Mr. Nelson is serving a mandatory 20 year sentence for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of 5 kilograms or more of cocaine and 50 grams or more of crack cocaine. Following the First Step Act’s changes to the definition of serious drug felony, Mr. Nelson would no longer receive a mandatory minimum term of 20 years’ imprisonment. Instead, he would likely face a 10-year sentence. He has already served more than 11 years in prison. Throughout his incarceration, he appears to have demonstrated commendable adjustment to custody.
Traie Tavares Kelly — President Trump commuted the sentence of Traie Tavares Kelly. This commutation is supported by Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and the Office of the Pardon Attorney. Mr. Kelly was convicted of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base and 5 kilograms or more of cocaine. He has served over 14 years in prison, but if he were sentenced today, he would likely be subject only to 10-year mandatory minimum. Moreover, Mr. Kelly has substantial work history while incarcerated and his notable accomplishments in education and programming demonstrate that he has used his time to maximize his chance at being a productive citizen upon release.
Javier Gonzales — President Trump commuted the sentence of Javier Gonzales. This commutation is supported by Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and the Office of the Pardon Attorney. Mr. Gonzales was convicted of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and distribution of methamphetamine in 2005. He has served over 14 years in prison, which is 4 years longer than the 10-year sentence he would likely receive today. He has a demonstrated record of rehabilitation during his incarceration, including steady employment, with substantial UNCIOR experience, and participation in vocational programming and training to facilitate his successful reintegration into the workforce upon release. He also has no history of violent conduct. Mr. Gonzales has actively addressed his admitted substance abuse issues with nonresidential drug treatment and participation in the residential program.
Eric Wesley Patton — President Trump granted a full pardon to Eric Wesley Patton. This pardon is supported by former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and the Office of the Pardon Attorney. Mr. Patton was convicted of making a false statement on a mortgage application in 1999. In the 20 years since his conviction, Mr. Patton has worked hard to build a sterling reputation, been a devoted parent, and made solid contributions to his community by quietly performing good deeds for friends, neighbors, and members of his church.
Robert William Cawthon — President Trump granted a full pardon to Robert William Cawthon. His pardon is supported by former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and the Office of the Pardon Attorney. Mr. Cawthon was convicted in 1992 for making a false statement on a bank loan application and was sentenced to 3 years’ probation, conditioned upon 180 days’ home confinement. Mr. Cawthon has accepted responsibility for his offense, served his sentence without incident, and fulfilled his restitution obligation. His atonement has been exceptional, and since his conviction he has led an unblemished life while engaging in extensive, praiseworthy community service.
Hal Knudson Mergler — President Trump granted a full pardon to Hal Knudson Mergler. This pardon is supported by former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and the Office of the Pardon Attorney. Mr. Mergler was convicted of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) in 1992. He received 1 month imprisonment, 3 years supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution. Since his conviction, Mr. Mergler has lived a productive and law-abiding life, including by earning a college degree, creating a successful business career, and starting a family. He has made significant contributions to his community and has helped to build a new school for a non-profit charitable organization. He is uniformly praised as a hardworking and ethical businessman and a caring father.
Gary Evan Hendler — President Trump granted a full pardon to Gary Evan Hendler. This pardon is supported by former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and the Office of the Pardon Attorney. In 1984, Mr. Hendler was convicted of conspiracy to distribute and dispense controlled substances and served 3 years' probation for his crime. He is remorseful and has taken full responsibility for his criminal actions. In the 40 years since his conviction, Mr. Hendler has lived a law-abiding life and has positively contributed to his community. He is financially stable and owns a successful real estate business. Most notably, he has helped others recover from addiction. Since 1982, he has organized and led weekly AA meetings. He also has mentored many individuals on their journey to sobriety with his radio broadcasts. His former probation officer noted that Mr. Hendler had become "integral" in the lives of many members of the community who were dealing with substance abuse issues. Further, his efforts in addiction and recovery have been recognized by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, who recently appointed him to a state advisory council on drug and alcohol abuse.
Steven Samuel Grantham — President Trump granted a full pardon to Steven Samuel Grantham. This pardon is supported by Mr. Grantham’s friends and family who praise his moral character, Acting Attorney Jeffrey Rosen, former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and the Office of the Pardon Attorney. Mr. Grantham was convicted in 1967 for stealing a vehicle. He received 18-months imprisonment, and 2 years’ probation. Since his conviction and release from prison, he has demonstrated remorse and accepted responsibility for his crime, which he committed approximately 50 years ago when he was just 19 years old. Mr. Grantham has lived a law-abiding and stable life. Most notably, he stepped in and assumed custody of his grandchild when the child's parents were unable to care for him. He now seeks a pardon for forgiveness and to restore his gun rights.
Clarence Olin Freeman — President Trump granted a full pardon to Clarence Olin Freeman. This pardon is supported by former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and the Office of the Pardon Attorney. Mr. Freeman was convicted in 1965 for operating an illegal whiskey still. He received 9 months imprisonment and 5 years’ probation. Since his conviction and release from prison, Mr. Freeman has led a law-abiding life. He has expressed sincere remorse for his illegal activity and remains mindful of the valuable lesson his conviction taught him. In the approximately 55 years since his conviction, he has built a stable marriage, founded a thriving business, and contributed positively to his community. He has earned a reputation for honesty, hard work, and generosity.
John Knock — President Trump commuted the sentence of John Knock. This commutation is supported by his family. Mr. Knock is a 73 year-old man, a first-time, non-violent marijuana only offender, who has served 24 years of a life sentence. Mr. Knock has an exemplary prison history, during which he completed college accounting classes and has had zero incident reports.
Kenneth Charles Fragoso — President Trump commuted the sentence of Kenneth Charles Fragoso. Mr. Fragoso is a 66 year-old United States Navy veteran who has served more than 30 years of a life sentence for a nonviolent drug offense. Mr. Fragoso has an exemplary prison history and has worked for UNICOR for over 20 years, learned new trades, and has mentored fellow inmates.
Luis Gonzalez — President Trump commuted the sentence of Luis Gonzalez. Mr. Gonzalez is a 78 year-old non-violent drug offender who has served more than 27 years of a life sentence. Under the First Step Act, Mr. Fragoso would not have been subject to a mandatory life sentence. Mr. Gonzalez has an upstanding prison record and has worked for UNICOR for over 20 years producing military uniforms.
Anthony DeJohn — President Trump commuted the sentence of Anthony DeJohn. Mr. DeJohn has served more than 13 years of a life sentence for conspiracy to distribute marijuana. Mr. DeJohn has maintained a clear disciplinary record and has been recognized for his outstanding work ethic while incarcerated. Mr. DeJohn has employment and housing available to him upon release.
Corvain Cooper — President Trump commuted the sentence of Mr. Corvain Cooper. Mr. Cooper is a 41-year-old father of two girls who has served more than 7 years of a life sentence for his non-violent participation in a conspiracy to distribute marijuana.
Way Quoe Long — President Trump commuted the sentence of Way Quoe Long. Mr. Long is a 58-year-old who has served nearly half of a 50-year sentence for a non-violent conviction for conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana. Mr. Long has spent his incarceration striving to better himself through English proficiency classes and by obtaining his GED. Upon release, Mr. Long will reunite with his family and will be strongly supported as he integrates back into the community.
Michael Pelletier — President Trump commuted the sentence of Michael Pelletier. Mr. Pelletier is a 64-year-old who has served 12 years of a 30-year sentence for conspiracy to distribute marijuana. Mr. Pelletier has maintained a clear disciplinary record, has thrived as an artist working with oil paints on canvas, and has taken several courses to perfect his skill while incarcerated. Upon his release, Mr. Pelletier will have a meaningful place of employment and housing with his brother.
Craig Cesal — President Trump commuted the sentence of Craig Cesal. Mr. Cesal is a father of two, one of whom unfortunately passed away while he was serving his life sentence for conspiracy to distribute marijuana. Mr. Cesal has had an exemplary disciplinary record and has become a paralegal assistant and a Eucharistic Minister in the Catholic Church to assist and guide other prisoners. Upon his release, Mr. Cesal looks forward to reintegrating back into society and to contributing to his community while living with his daughter with whom he has remained close. Mr. Cesal hopes to be a part of her upcoming wedding.
Darrell Frazier — President Trump commuted the sentence of Darrell Frazier. Mr. Frazier is a 60-year-old who has served 29 years of a life sentence for non-violent conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine. Mr. Frazier has had an exemplary disciplinary record in prison and has spent his time creating the Joe Johnson Tennis Foundation, a 501(c)(3) that provides free tennis lessons to hundreds of children in underserved communities. Upon his release, Mr. Frazier will have a meaningful place of employment and housing with his mother.
Lavonne Roach — President Trump commuted the sentence of Lavonne Roach. Ms. Roach has served 23 years of a 30-year sentence for non-violent drug charges. She has had an exemplary prison record and has tutored and mentored other prisoners. Ms. Roach has a strong family support system to help her transition back into the community.
Robert Francis — President Trump commuted the sentence of Robert Francis. Mr. Francis has served 18 years of a life sentence for non-violent drug conspiracy charges. Mr. Francis has a spotless disciplinary record in prison and has been active in his efforts toward rehabilitation. Upon release, Mr. Francis, a father of 3, will live with his sister in Houston, Texas
Derrick Smith — President Trump commuted the sentence of Derrick Smith. Mr. Smith is a 53-year-old who has served more than 20 years of a nearly 30-year sentence for distribution of drugs to a companion who passed away. Mr. Smith is deeply remorseful for his role in this tragic death and has had an exemplary record while incarcerated. Mr. Smith intends to secure a construction job, care for his mother and his son, and rebuild his relationship with his two other children.
Raymond Hersman — President Trump commuted the sentence of Raymond Hersman. Mr. Hersman is a 55-year-old father of two who has served more than 9 years of a 20-year sentence. While incarcerated, Mr. Hersman has maintained a spotless disciplinary record, worked steadily, and participated in several programming and educational opportunities. Upon release, he looks forward to transitioning back into the community and leading a productive life with strong family support.
James Romans — President Trump commuted the sentence of James Romans. Mr. Romans is a father and a grandfather who received a life sentence without parole for his involvement in a conspiracy to distribute marijuana. Mr. Romans has had an exemplary disciplinary record for the more than 10 years he has served, and has completed a long list of courses. He has already secured job opportunities that will help him successfully re-enter society.
Michael Harris — President Trump commuted the sentence of Michael Harris. Mr. Harris is a 59 year old who has served 30 years of a 25 year to life sentence for conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. Mr. Harris has had an exemplary prison record for three decades. He is a former entrepreneur and has mentored and taught fellow prisoners how to start and run businesses. He has completed courses towards business and journalism degrees. Upon his release, Mr. Harris will have a meaningful place of employment and housing with the support of his family.
Kyle Kimoto — President Trump commuted the sentence of Kyle Kimoto. Mr. Kimoto is a father of six who has served 12 years of his 29-year sentence for a non-violent telemarketing fraud scheme. Mr. Kimoto has been an exemplary prisoner, has held numerous jobs, shown remorse, and mentored other inmates in faith. Upon his release, he has a job offer and will help care for his six children and three grandchildren.
Chalana McFarland – President Trump commuted the sentence of Chalana McFarland. Ms. McFarland has served 15 years of a 30-year sentence. Though she went to trial, Ms. McFarland actually cooperated with authorities by informing them of a potential attack on the United States Attorney. Her co-defendants who pled guilty, however, received lesser sentences ranging from 5 to 87 months. Ms. McFarland was a model inmate and is now under home confinement.
John Estin Davis – President Trump commuted the sentence of John Estin Davis. This commutation is supported by Caroline Bryan, Luke Bryan, Ellen Boyer, Amy Davis, Kim Davis, Brandon McWherter, Sheila McWherter, Dr. Jeff Hall, Dr. Brad Maltz, Brent Ford, Mark Lotito, Keri Rowland, Mark Rowland, and Stephen Stock. Mr. Davis has spent the last 4 months incarcerated for serving as Chief Executive Office of a healthcare company with a financial conflict of interest. Notably, no one suffered financially as a result of his crime and he has no other criminal record. Prior to his conviction, Mr. Davis was well known in his community as an active supporter of local charities. He is described as hardworking and deeply committed to his family and country. Mr. Davis and his wife have been married for 15 years, and he is the father of three young children.
Douglas Jemal – President Trump granted a full pardon to Douglas Jemal. Mr. Jemal is an American businessman and philanthropist credited with rebuilding many urban inner cities in the United States. In 2008, Mr. Jemal was convicted of fraud. In addition, Mr. Jemal was instrumental to various other charitable causes, including the rebuilding of churches prior to his conviction. Notably, at his trial the presiding judge told prosecutors that he thought it “inconceivable” to send Mr. Jemal to prison.
Noah Kleinman – President Trump commuted the sentence of Noah Kleinman. Mr. Kleinman is a 45-year old father of two children. The mother of his children unfortunately passed away during Mr. Kleinman’s incarceration. Mr. Kleinman has served 6 years of a nearly 20 year sentence for a non-violent crime to distribute marijuana. Mr. Kleinman has had an exemplary prison history and has worked to remain close to his children and his father. Upon release, he looks forward to living with his father, working for the family business, and caring for his children.
Dr. Scott Harkonen – President Trump granted a full pardon Dr. Scott Harkonen. Dr. Harkonen was convicted of fraud based on a misleading caption in a press release with respect to a treatment for a disease. Dr. Harkonen is world renowned for his discovery of a new kidney disease, as well as its cause and treatment. Dr. Harkonen looks forward to returning to medicine.
Johnny D. Phillips, Jr. – President Trump granted a full pardon to Johnny D. Phillips, Jr. This pardon is supported by Senator Rand Paul, the former United States Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee, and numerous members of his community. In 2016, Mr. Phillips was convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud. Mr. Phillips is known as an upstanding citizen and is a valued member of his community. He dedicates his time to his three young children and is an advocate for Type 1 diabetes research.
Dr. Mahmoud Reza Banki – President Trump granted a full pardon to Dr. Mahmoud Reza Banki. This pardon is supported by many elected officials of stature, including the late Representative John Lewis, Senator Diane Feinstein, and other Members of Congress. Dr. Banki is an Iranian American citizen who came to the United States when he was 18 years old. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, before obtaining a PhD from Princeton University and an MBA from the University of California, Los Angeles. In 2010 Dr. Banki was charged with monetary violations of Iranian sanctions and making false statements. The charges related to sanctions violations were subsequently overturned by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. However, the felony charges for making false statements have prevented Dr. Banki from resuming a full life. In the years since his conviction, Dr. Banki has dedicated himself to his community and maintained a sincere love and respect for the United States.
Tena Logan – President Trump commuted the sentence of Tena Logan. Ms. Logan has served 8 years of a 14-year sentence for a non-violent drug offense. She had an exemplary prison record with extensive work and programming, and has assumed several leadership positions. In addition, Ms. Logan was authorized to work outside the perimeter of the prison, and was granted home confinement under the CARES Act last summer. Today, Ms. Logan lives with her husband and works fulltime at a major retail store.
MaryAnne Locke – President Trump commuted the sentence of MaryAnne Locke. Ms. Locke has served roughly 11 years of a nearly 20-year sentence for a non-violent drug offense. Despite the difficulties of beginning her sentence just 6 weeks after having a Caesarean section, her prison record has been exemplary, with extensive programming and work. Ms. Locke was authorized to work outside the perimeter of the prison, and was granted home confinement under the CARES Act last summer. Today, she lives with her father, is building a relationship with her children, and works fulltime at a major retail store.
April Coots – President Trump commuted the sentence of April Coots. Ms. Coots has served more than 10 years of her 20-year sentence for a non-violent drug offense. Throughout her incarceration, she has been an exemplary inmate, obtained an HVAC license, and completed the PAWS apprenticeship program. During the 18 months before the trial, Ms. Coots started a business, completed her GED, and took two semesters of community college classes. Importantly, Ms. Coots has a supportive family and church community that will help her transition and create a stable network for her post-incarceration
Jodi Lynn Richter – President Trump commuted the sentence of Jodi Lynn Richter. Ms. Richter has served 10 years of a 15-year sentence for a non-violent drug offense. Ms. Richter has an exemplary prison record, and spends her time training service dogs in the PAWS program, tutoring other inmates in pursuit of their GED, and learning to operate a range of heavy machinery. Her parents have continued to support her and she has various employment opportunities available.
Mary Roberts – President Trump commuted the sentence of Mary Roberts. Ms. Roberts has served 10 years of a 19-year sentence for a non-violent drug offense. She has maintained an exemplary disciplinary record, and a strong programming and work history, including as a part of the PAWS program, UNICOR and food service, and she is authorized to work outside the prison perimeter. Upon her release, Ms. Roberts plans to spend time with her daughter and enjoys strong support from her family. In addition, she has various employment opportunities available.
Cassandra Ann Kasowski – President Trump commuted the sentence of Cassandra Ann Kasowski. Notably, her warden recommended her for home confinement under the CARES Act. Ms. Kasowski has served more than 7 years of a 17-year sentence for a non-violent drug offense. She has been an exemplary inmate and has worked extensively, including as a part of the PAWS program and in UNICOR. Upon her release, she plans to spend time with her son and seek employment.
Lerna Lea Paulson – President Trump commuted the sentence of Lerna Lea Paulson. Notably, Ms. Paulson’s warden recommended her for home confinement under the CARES Act. Ms. Paulson has served nearly 7 years of a 17-year sentence for a non-violent drug offense. During her time in prison, she has maintained an exemplary disciplinary record, has worked full-time in UNICOR, and served as a mental health counselor. In addition, she has served an inmate companion as well as a suicide watch companion. She is also authorized to work outside the prison perimeter. Upon her release, she plans on spending time with her family and seek employment.
Ann Butler — President Trump commuted the sentence of Ann Butler. Ms. Butler has served more than 10 years of a nearly 20-year sentence for a non-violent offense. She has an exemplary prison record, with extensive programming and work history and has garnered outstanding evaluations. In addition, she is extraordinarily devoted to her faith. At the time of her arrest, Ms. Butler was caring for five children and held two minimum-wage jobs. Upon her release, Ms. Butler wishes to reunite with her family and seek employment.
Sydney Navarro — President Trump commuted the sentence of Sydney Navarro. Ms. Navarro has served nearly 8 years of a 27-year sentence for a non-violent drug offense. She has an exemplary prison record. In addition, Ms. Navarro obtained her GED, participated in extensive program work, and earned excellent work evaluations. Notably, Ms. Navarro was chosen to speak to at-risk youth in the community through the SHARE program. Upon her release, Ms. Navarro wishes to reunite with her daughter and seek employment.
Tara Perry — President Trump commuted the sentence of Tara Perry. Ms. Perry has served nearly 7 years of a 16-year sentence for a non-violent drug offense. She has maintained an exemplary prison record and has obtained her nursing certification. Ms. Perry also enjoys singing during the prison religious services. Upon her release, Ms. Perry plans to spend time with her mother and seek employment.
John Nystrom – President Trump granted a full pardon to John Nystrom, who, other than this conviction, was described by his sentencing judge as a “model citizen.” His clemency is supported by Governor Kristi Noem and Senator Michael Rounds. Over 10 years ago, while working as a contractor on a school reconstruction project, Mr. Nystrom failed to alert the proper authorities when he learned that a subcontractor was receiving double payments for work performed. Mr. Nystrom took full responsibility for this oversight and even tried to pay the Crowe Creek Tribe, who was paying for the work, restitution before he pled guilty. Mr. Nystrom has since paid his restitution in full. Mr. Nystrom teaches Sunday school and volunteers for the Knights of Columbus and Habitat for Humanity, among other organizations, and has previously served as County Commissioner.
Jessica Frease — President Trump granted a full pardon to Jessica Frease. This pardon is supported by Governor Kristi Noem, South Dakota State Senator Lynne Hix-DiSanto, the United States Probation Officer responsible for Ms. Frease’s supervision, and many in her community. Ms. Frease was 20 years old when she was convicted after converting stolen checks and negotiating them through the bank where she worked as a teller. Upon her arrest, however, she immediately relinquished the stolen funds to the authorities. After serving her two year sentence, she was granted early termination of her supervised release due to her commendable conduct. Currently, Ms. Frease is studying to become an Emergency Medical Technician and devotes her time and energy to raising funds for cancer patients.
Robert Cannon “Robin” Hayes — President Trump granted a full pardon to Robert Cannon “Robin” Hayes. The former North Carolina Congressman is serving a 1-year term of probation for making a false statement in the course of a Federal investigation. In addition to his years in Congress, Mr. Hayes has served as Chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party and Chair of the National Council of Republican Party Chairs. Senator Thom Tillis and several members of the North Carolina Congressional delegation strongly support clemency for Mr. Hayes.
Thomas Kenton “Ken” Ford — President Trump granted a full pardon to Ken Ford, a 38-year veteran of the coal industry and currently the General Manager of a coal company. Mr. Ford’s pardon is supported by members of the coal mining community, including those with extensive experience in mining operations, safety, and engineering, who describe Mr. Ford as a “model manager” who conducts himself with the utmost professionalism and integrity. Twenty years ago, Mr. Ford made a material misstatement to Federal mining officials. Mr. Ford pled guilty and served a sentence of 30 years’ probation. In the decades since, Mr. Ford has been an upstanding member of his community and has used this experience and his decades of expertise to keep miners safe, including promoting truthfulness and integrity with Federal mining officials, for whom Mr. Ford states that he has the “utmost respect.”
Jon Harder — President Trump commuted the sentence of Jon Harder, former President and CEO of Sunwest Management Inc., who has served nearly 5 years of a 15-year prison sentence. Notable figures, including the Honorable Michael Hogan who served as the Federal judge overseeing Sunwest’s bankruptcy and receivership, Ford Elsaesser who served as counsel to Sunwest’s creditors in receivership, and multiple other individuals involved in the litigation support Mr. Harder’s commutation. Mr. Harder was serving as president and CEO of Sunwest Management Inc., a large management company overseeing residential senior care facilities, when he misused investment funds during the real estate crisis. Mr. Harder fully accepted responsibility, pled guilty, and cooperated with the government’s civil and criminal actions against him at great personal cost. According to former Chief Judge Hogan, Mr. Harder’s full cooperation “against his substantial financial and penal interests” helped secure the sale of the company’s assets, ensuring that Sunwest’s investors recovered more of their investment, seniors could continue living in their facilities, and employees could retain their livelihoods. Mr. Elsaesser stated that “of all the financial wrongdoers that [the court and the Government] dealt with during the real estate crash of 2008, Mr. Harder acted more responsibly than any of his ‘peers.’” President Trump commends Mr. Harder for choosing to put his employees, investors, and the senior citizens residing in Sunwest’s homes above himself.
Scott Conor Crosby — President Trump granted a full pardon to Scott Conor Crosby. Mr. Crosby is supported by Senator Martha McSally, the Mayor and Vice Mayor of Mesa, Arizona, and the Bishop of his church, all of whom attest to Mr. Crosby’s service to his community and upstanding character. In 1992, Mr. Crosby made a “‘spur of the moment’ poor decision” to participate in a co-worker’s plan to commit a bank robbery. Mr. Crosby was arrested the same day and cooperated with the authorities. Since his release from prison, he has spent significant time volunteering at his church, mentoring youth, and has earned a certification as an Emergency Medical Technician. Mr. Crosby’s civil rights were restored by the State of Arizona in 2003, and this action restores his Federal civil rights.
Adrianne Miller – President Trump commuted the remaining sentence of Adrianne Miller. This commutation is supported by former U.S. Attorney Brett Tolman and the Clemency for All Non-Violent Drug Offenders (CAN-DO) Foundation. Ms. Miller has served 6 years of a 15-year sentence after pleading guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and possession of a list I chemical. Ms. Miller, who has struggled with drug addiction, has fully committed to rehabilitation while in prison. In addition, she has taken numerous courses including drug education, life management, and has participated in the Life Connections Program, an intensive, multi-phase re-entry program offered by the Bureau of Prisons. She is extremely remorseful, regrets her “destructive choices” and has taken full responsibility for her actions.
Joshua J. Smith — President Trump granted a full pardon to Joshua J. Smith. Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, Representative Tim Burchett, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Corrections Tony Parker, Director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation David Rausch, and numerous other community and faith leaders support the pardon of Mr. Smith. Since his release from prison in 2003 for conspiracy to possess drugs with intent to distribute, Mr. Smith has dedicated his life to his faith and to his community. He is now a successful businessman and has used his financial success to establish Fourth Purpose, a non-profit organization devoted to making prison “a place of transformation.” He has mentored incarcerated individuals and taught business classes to those in prison—including at the prison where he was incarcerated. Mr. Smith has also been heavily involved in mission trips throughout Latin America.
Amy Povah – President Trump granted a full pardon to Amy Povah, the founder of the CAN-DO (Clemency for All Non-violent Drug Offenders) Foundation. In the 1990s, Ms. Povah served 9 years of a 24 year sentence for a drug offense before President Clinton commuted her remaining prison sentence in 2000. Since her release, she has become a voice for the incarcerated, a champion for criminal justice reform, and was a strong advocate for the passage of the First Step Act. Those assisted by Ms. Povah’s organization include Ms. Adrianne Miller, whose remaining prison sentence the President commuted.
Dr. Frederick Nahas – President Trump granted a full pardon to Frederick Nahas. This pardon is supported by Representative Jeff Van Drew. Dr. Nahas is a talented surgeon with a practice in New Jersey. In the 1990s, Dr. Nahas became aware of a Federal investigation into his billing practices. Although the 6-year investigation uncovered no underlying billing fraud, Dr. Nahas did not fully cooperate and ultimately pled guilty to one count of obstructing justice in a health care investigation. Dr. Nahas spent 1 month in prison in 2003 and has spent the subsequent 18 years working tirelessly to regain the trust and admiration of his patients, colleagues, and community.
Fred “Dave” Clark — President Trump commuted Dave Clark’s remaining term of incarceration after serving over 6 years in Federal prison for a first-time, non-violent offense. Mr. Clark’s commutation is supported by Professor Alan Dershowitz, Ken Starr, the Aleph Institute, his family of seven children, and former business colleagues and investors, among others. While in prison, Mr. Clark has lead Bible Study and developed a “Promising People” program to teach inmates technical skills and connect them with faith-based support.
Todd Farha, Thaddeus Bereday, William Kale, Paul Behrens, Peter Clay — President Trump granted full pardons to Todd Farha, Thaddeus Bereday, William Kale, Paul Behrens, and Peter Clay, former executives of a healthcare maintenance organization. Widely cited as a case study in overcriminalization, these men have attracted a broad range of support, including from the CATO Institute, the Reason Foundation, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and various scholars and law professors. In 2008, Messrs. Farha, Bereday, Kale, Behrens, and Clay were criminally prosecuted for a state regulatory matter involving the reporting of expenditures to a state health agency. The expenditures reported were based on actual monies spent, and the reporting methodology was reviewed and endorsed by those with expertise in the state regulatory scheme. Notably, there was no evidence that any of the individuals were motivated by greed. And in fact, the sentencing judge called the likelihood that there was any personal financial motivation “infinitesimal.” The judge imposed a range of sentences from probation to 3 years’ imprisonment, reflecting the conduct as an aberration from these individuals’ otherwise law-abiding lives. Messrs. Farha, Bereday, Kale, Behrens, and Clay are described as devoted to their family and their communities, and have weathered their convictions without complaint
David Rowland — President Trump granted a full pardon to David Rowland. This pardon is supported by Senator Lindsey Graham. Mr. Rowland’s asbestos removal license had lapsed when he agreed to remove asbestos found in an elementary school. He completed the work in compliance with all other regulations, but received 2 years’ probation for a violation of the Clean Air Act. Mr. Rowland accepts responsibility and is remorseful. In addition, he has given back to his community by continuing to work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation after the completion of his mandatory community service.
Stephen Odzer — President Trump granted a conditional pardon to Stephen Odzer. This pardon is supported by former Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, Sigmund “Sig” Rogich, Jason Greenblatt, Michael Steinhardt, Wayne Allyn Root, Salvador Moran, the Aleph Institute, and numerous members of Mr. Odzer’s religious community. Mr. Odzer pled guilty to conspiracy and bank fraud, for which he was sentenced to 18 months in prison. Numerous individuals testify to his substantial philanthropic and volunteer activities. His philanthropic endeavors include providing personal protective equipment to front-line workers in New York City hospitals visiting sick children in hospitals and donating religious materials to prison inmates and U.S. Service Members around the world. He has also dedicated resources to support and build synagogues in memory of his late cousin who was kidnapped and killed by Muslim terrorists while in Israel. The pardon requires Mr. Odzer to pay the remainder of his restitution order.
James Brian Cruz — President Trump commuted the remaining sentence of James Brian Cruz. Mr. Cruz’s many supporters include Alice Johnson, Dr. Robert Jeffress, Pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, Kelly Shackelford of the First Liberty Institute, several former inmates who Mr. Cruz mentored or ministered, Mr. Cruz’s work supervisor, and several business owners and managers. Mr. Cruz, who has served approximately half of a 40-year sentence for a drug crime, has truly reformed and has worked to better his life and the lives of other inmates while in prison. Several former inmates credit Mr. Cruz, whom they met while incarcerated, as someone who helped changed their life, as “a great source of comfort” for many, and one who helps others without looking for anything in return. Mr. Cruz’s work supervisor describes him as a dependable and hard-working employee, who has “gained the respect of many staff workers and inmates alike” and who helps arguing inmates “make peace.” Mr. Cruz writes that he recognizes the effect drugs have on people, families, and the community, and desires a second chance to “live life as one who upholds the law, and lives to help others.”
Steven Benjamin Floyd — President Trump granted a full pardon to Steven Benjamin Floyd. This pardon is supported by Representative Mark Green. Mr. Floyd joined the United States Marines Corps at age 17 and earned a combat action ribbon in Iraq. He pled guilty to one count of bank robbery by extortion. Since his release from prison in 2009, Mr. Floyd has exemplified the power of second chances, and is raising a family and owns a successful car repair business. Mr. Floyd’s dedication to service includes helping extinguish fires set during the recent unrest and repairing widows and disabled veterans’ cars free of charge. President Trump thanks Mr. Floyd for his past military service and for his commitment to his community.
Joey Hancock — President Trump granted a full pardon to Joey Hancock. Senator Roger Wicker, and Mr. Hancock’s employer, pastor, and other members of his community all support this pardon. Mr. Hancock was convicted for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance. Following his release from prison, Mr. Hancock has been a hard-working employee and active in his church and community.
David E. Miller — President Trump granted a full pardon to David E. Miller. Governor Bill Lee, Mr. Miller’s employer, and numerous colleagues support this pardon. In 2015, Mr. Miller pled guilty to one count of making a false statement to a bank. Today, Mr. Miller is the development director for the charitable organization Men of Valor, where he helps previously incarcerated men rebuild relationships with their faith, family, and society. Governor Lee describes Mr. Miller as having “embraced the ministry’s work and [has] committed himself to doing right and serving others.”
James Austin Hayes – President Trump granted a full pardon to James Austin Hayes. Mr. Hayes’s pardon is supported by Paula White, Rick Hendrick of Hendrick Motorsports, and NASCAR legend Jeff Gordon. Nearly 10 years ago, Mr. Hayes was convicted of conspiracy to commit insider trading. Mr. Hayes cooperated immediately and extensively and disgorged all profits he earned in a related civil action. Since his conviction, Mr. Hayes has been active in his church and his community.
Drew Brownstein — President Trump granted a full pardon to Drew Brownstein, who, other than this conviction, was described by his sentencing judge as someone who “goes out of his way to help people that are less fortunate.” This pardon is supported by the Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division, Makan Delrahim, and several of Mr. Brownstein’s friends and family. Mr. Brownstein was convicted of insider trading and has since paid his fines and forfeitures in full. Both before and after his conviction, Mr. Brownstein has volunteered extensively as a youth coach with the Boys & Girls club in Denver and the Jewish Family Services of Colorado.
Robert Bowker – President Trump granted a full pardon to Robert Bowker. Mr. Bowker’s pardon is supported by Ann Marie Pallan, Sherriff Butch Anderson, and the late Robert Trump. Nearly 30 years ago, Mr. Bowker pled guilty to a violation the Lacey Act, which prohibits trafficking in wildlife, when he arranged for 22 snakes owned by Rudy “Cobra King” Komarek to be transported to the Miami Serpentarium. Although he did not ask for any animals in return, he was offered 22 American alligators. After pleading guilty, Mr. Bowker was sentenced to probation. Mr. Bowker has dedicated resources to animal conservation efforts in the intervening decades, including as a member of the Humane Society of the United States, World Wildlife Fund, and Wildlife Conservation Society.
Amir Khan – President Trump granted a full pardon to Amir Khan. This pardon is supported by his adult children and members of the community. Mr. Khan pled guilty to wire fraud. Notably, he immediately paid back the victim more than in full and has demonstrated remorse for his conduct. Prior to the pandemic, Mr. Khan volunteered at the organization 3 Square Meals, and has regularly donated to charities including St. Jude Children’s Hospital, Boys Town, Covenant House, Tunnel to Towers Foundation, and the Salvation Army.
Robert Sherrill – President Trump granted a full pardon to Robert Sherrill. Mr. Sherrill was convicted of conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Mr. Sherrill has taken full responsibility for his criminal past and received treatment for his drug addiction. He started a commercial cleaning business as well as a non-profit organization that mentors at-risk youth.
Dr. Robert S. Corkern — President Trump granted a full pardon to Robert S. Corkern. This pardon is supported by Senators Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith, Governor Phil Bryant, and Dr. Michael Mansour. Dr. Corkern was convicted of Federal program bribery. This pardon will help Dr. Corkern practice medicine in his community, which is in dire need of more doctors as it has struggled to keep up with demand for emergency services. Dr. Corkern served in the Mississippi Army National Guard and has generously provided his services to low-income patients.
David Lamar Clanton – President Trump granted a full pardon to David Lamar Clanton. This pardon is supported by Senator Roger Wicker, Alton Shaw, Mark Galtelli, and Terri Rielley. Mr. Clanton was convicted of false statements and related charges. Mr. Clanton’s supporters testify to his contributions to the community, especially with respect to issues surrounding rural healthcare. Mr. Clanton has been active with 4-H Clubs and other organizations in his community.
Hillel Nahmad — President Trump granted a full pardon to Hillel Nahmad. This pardon is supported by members of his community. Mr. Nahmad was convicted of a sports gambling offense. Since his conviction, he has lived an exemplary life and has been dedicated to the well-being of his community.
Brian McSwain — The President granted a full pardon to Brian McSwain. This pardon is supported by Senator Lindsey Graham, two former United States Attorneys for the District of South Carolina, and other former law enforcement officers. Since serving his 18 month sentence for a drug crime committed in the early 1990s, Mr. McSwain has been gainfully employed and has been passed over for several promotion opportunities due to his felony conviction.
John Duncan Fordham — President Trump granted a full pardon to John Duncan Fordham. Mr. Fordham was convicted on one count of health care fraud. A judge later dismissed the conspiracy charge against him.
William “Ed” Henry — President Trump granted a full pardon to William “Ed” Henry of Alabama. This pardon is supported by Senator Tommy Tuberville. Mr. Henry was sentenced to 2 years’ probation for aiding and abetting the theft of government property and paid a $4,000 fine.
In addition, President Trump commuted the sentences to time served for the following individuals: Jeff Cheney, Marquis Dargon, Jennings Gilbert, Dwayne L. Harrison, Reginald Dinez Johnson, Sharon King, and Hector Madrigal, Sr.
CORRECTION (Jan. 21, 2021, 08:52 ET): A previous version of this article misstated the type of presidential clemency offered Kwame Kilpatrick. His 28-year prison sentence for racketeering and bribery was commuted he was not pardoned.
CORRECTION (Jan. 21, 2021): A previous version of this article misstated the dollar amount of the drugs Jonathan Braun smuggled into the United States. $1.76 billion is the estimated worth of all the marijuana he smuggled in from 2008 to 2010, not just of 2,200 pounds of marijuana.
Yuliya Talmazan is a London-based journalist.
Rachel Elbaum is a London-based editor, producer and writer.
Sara Mhaidli is a reporter for NBC News' Social Newsgathering team based in London.
Donald Trump on the Red Cup Controversy: "Maybe We Should Boycott Starbucks"
Donald Trump recently boycotted Oreos, and now, despite leasing to Starbucks in Trump Tower, Trump has sided with Christians over the red cup controversy on Monday. While speaking to a group of Americans in Springfield, IL, the Republican presidential candidate said:
"Did you read about Starbucks? No more 'Merry Christmas' on Starbucks. No more. I wouldn't buy. Hey look, I'm speaking against myself. I have one of the most successful Starbucks in Trump Tower. Maybe we should boycott Starbucks? I don't know. Seriously! I don't care. By the way, that's the end of that lease, but who cares? Who cares . . . I will tell you . . . If I become president, we're all going to be saying 'Merry Christmas' again, that I can tell you. That I can tell you."
These comments come just hours before the next Republican presidential debate, which airs tonight. A blow to business in order to win some Christian votes? The campaign is certainly heating up!
2016 Election Forecast: Who Will Be President?
The Upshot’s presidential forecast, updated daily.
“It seems to me that Trump’s argument is this: ‘Your life sucks. Try something new. I’m something new,’” he said. “That’s the argument he’s making to black voters and, more broadly, that’s the entire Trump campaign.”
Mr. Trump would seem to have nowhere to go but up among African-American voters. A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found Hillary Clinton with a 91 to 1 percent advantage over Mr. Trump among blacks. Many say Mr. Trump’s role in leading the so-called birther movement that questioned President Obama’s birthplace doomed his chances with African-American voters.
“Social media and YouTube have a record of what he’s said in the last year, much less the last five or six years,” said Andra Gillespie, an Emory University political scientist, who is black. “You can’t just make one speech, have a good week and then all of a sudden think people are going to forget everything you’ve done.”
Some black conservatives, however, defended Mr. Trump. Wayne Dupree, a radio host, posted a live video to Periscope, an app that allows users to live-stream video, saying that Mrs. Clinton had been tricking black people for years. He urged blacks to look at the conditions they were living under.
“Look to the left, look to the right and look in front of you and tell me if things haven’t changed,” he said. “Then why do you keep voting for the Democratic Party? Why do you keep voting for the same side?”
He urged blacks to help get Mr. Trump “elected so that we can change America.”’
“America needs to go a different route,” Mr. Dupree said.
The Trump campaign rejected criticism with a statement from Lynne Patton, a black woman who is an assistant to the Trump family, accusing Democrats of treating black voters as a “monolith.”
In Atlanta on Wednesday, Nate Cohen, 35, a health care information technology worker, was among the African-Americans unimpressed by Mr. Trump’s efforts.
Mr. Cohen’s most generous interpretation was that perhaps Mr. Trump had not done his homework. Perhaps he needed to hit the streets and see the variety of the black experience. “I don’t recall ever seeing him going out into those hedges and highways,” he said. “You can’t just go on what you see on TV.”
Certainly, he said, some live in dire poverty. Mr. Cohen’s side job is as a motivational speaker, work that takes him to troubled neighborhoods. But he said blacks and Latinos were not the only people living in such conditions.
He said he had tried to give Mr. Trump a fair hearing, but had been turned off to him long ago. Mr. Trump, he said, will say “warped” things — like proposing to bar Muslims from entering the country or deporting all illegal immigrants — and then say things to “patch it up.”
He wondered whether Mr. Trump was appealing to whites, reinforcing stereotypes about blacks. “You’ve got to be mindful of who you affect, and who you infect,” he said, adding that Mr. Trump might be “infecting” his white audience with racist ideas.
Or as Ms. Scott put it: “He is giving voice to every stereotype he’s ever heard. I heard someone say, ‘It’s like he only watches “The Wire,” and that’s what he knows about black people.’”
At Six Feet Under, a seafood restaurant popular among blacks and whites, Anthony Simpson, 55, said he had heard Mr. Trump’s comments, but paid them little mind. He said he had long dismissed Mr. Trump as “a joke.”
Mr. Simpson, who owns a demolition business, said he was not surprised that Mr. Trump had offended many black people, after the things he had said about Muslims and Latinos.
Trump’s presidency may be best remembered for its cataclysmic end. But his four years as president also changed real American policy in lasting ways, just more quietly. We asked POLITICO’s best-in-class policy reporters to recap some of the ways Trump changed the country while in office, for better or worse.
President Donald Trump changed some key areas of federal policy in ways that may have lasting impact well after his four years are up. | AP/Getty Images/POLITICO illustration
Many Americans will remember President Donald Trump’s presidency as a four-yearlong storm of tweets, rallies and on-air rants that ended in a mob riot and historic second impeachment. But there was more to the Trump presidency than attention-hogging political drama and conflict often unnoticed, Trump and his administration actually did succeed in changing some of the ways Washington works.
From imposing a ban on Chinese-made drones to rolling back rules on sexual harassment, from cracking down on robocalls to letting states legalize marijuana, Trump changed some key areas of federal policy in ways that may have lasting impact well after he’s gone.
But here’s the thing — between all the news coverage of the president himself, a global pandemic and various other upheavals, there’s a good chance you missed a lot of them. So here is POLITICO’s list of 30 important policy changes Trump made as president, how they’ve affected our lives, families and businesses, and the prospects they will survive the incoming Biden administration.
Trump didn't repeal Obamacare — he accidentally bolstered it
Pedro Rojas holds a sign directing people to an insurance company where they can sign up for the Affordable Care Act. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Trump came into office vowing to repeal Obamacare — and even took the law to court when that failed in Congress. But his most significant imprint on the Affordable Care Act was an accidental boost that happened when he stumbled into pouring billions of extra federal dollars into subsidizing Americans’ coverage.
The move: House Republicans had tried for years to cut off subsidies that helped low-income Obamacare enrollees with the co-pays, co-insurance and deductibles that come with their health plans. In 2017, Trump finally did it through administrative means after the GOP effort to replace the law fell apart — and he immediately drew intense outcry from Democrats and policy experts who called the move “sabotage.”
The impact: The health exchanges didn’t collapse, as Trump had hoped. Instead, health plans and states quickly figured out a way to claw back the federal dollars they lost: They built the costs of the subsidies into premiums for Obamacare’s benchmark “silver” policies. This meant that premiums for these “silver” plans spiked and as a result, the premium subsidies the government had to pay for low-income enrollees vastly increased. The concept, known as “silver-loading,” grew government subsidizing of the exchanges by upwards of $20 billion per year.
The upshot: While Trump’s moves made Obamacare plans increasingly unaffordable for the unsubsidized, Democrats quickly tamped down their criticisms since it accomplished their goal of significantly boosting funding for Obamacare. The incoming Biden administration isn’t likely to reverse course. — Susannah Luthi
Trump refocused national security on great power competition
American soldiers wait on the tarmac in Logar province, Afghanistan. | Rahmat Gul/AP Photo
Defense policy documents are so abundant they could wallpaper the Pentagon. But the Trump administration’s National Defense Strategy stands out as one of the most important defense policy shifts of the last generation, reorienting the American military to confront rising and increasingly aggressive powers Russia and China.
The move: The 2018 strategy rewired the Defense Department’s vast bureaucracy away from a focus on fighting insurgents and terrorists in the Middle East toward a long-term strategic competition with China and Russia. As a result, the military is changing how it trains personnel, which technologies it buys, and the geographic areas of the world where it prioritizes its forces.
The impact: Already it has led to a reordering of the Pentagon budget and new investments supported by a bipartisan majority in Congress, including billions of dollars to beef up the U.S. military presence in the Asia-Pacific.
The upshot: Despite differences in tone and rhetoric, this is a refocusing of the United States’ military posture that is expected to continue in the Biden administration. — Bryan Bender
Trump failed to provide workplace guidance, making safety harder for workers
People suit up in personal protective equipment before conducting coronavirus testing in Malibu, Calif. | Mario Tama/Getty Images
Arguably the most consequential decision Trump made involving American workers was something it chose not to do: It declined to implement a so-called “emergency temporary standard” when the coronavirus pandemic hit. Such a standard, issued when the Occupational Safety and Health Administration determines workers are in “grave danger,” would have established immediate and mandatory workplace safety rules employers must follow to protect employees from exposure.
The move: Despite pressure from Democrats, unions and worker advocates, OSHA refused to set rules for worker safety during the pandemic. Republicans defended the decision by saying the burden on companies struggling to stay afloat amid the recession would be too great. In the absence of a standard, employers have only had to comply with a mix of optional guidelines, able to pick and choose what precautions they take.
The impact: The agency’s backseat approach to workplace safety means Americans still face a dangerously unpredictable range of safety conditions when they show up to work. Though OSHA has cited some companies for coronavirus-related transgressions, many large corporations received meager fines even in cases where workers died from Covid-19. Democrats have attempted to include language mandating an emergency temporary standard in future rounds of pandemic aid — but their efforts have been unsuccessful.
The upshot: One of the first things a Biden administration will likely move to do is instruct OSHA to step up worker safety enforcement — including by enacting an emergency standard and ramping up penalties on violators. Biden’s campaign also pledged to double the number of OSHA investigators to enforce the law and existing standards. — Eleanor Mueller
Religion in schools
Trump boosted religious organizations in education
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos listens as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a briefing on March 26, 2020. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Trump failed to enact any sweeping school choice policy that sends money to parents to help them pay for private and religious schools. But his administration, led by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, a devout Christian, found ways to expand federal support for religious schools and organizations at the Education Department.
The move: DeVos tweaked a wide range of federal education policies, large and small, to bolster faith-based organizations. She changed regulations, for example, to make it easier for members of religious orders to access federal financial aid and expanded federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness to cover clergy members. And she created new protections for faith-based campus organizations at public universities.
At the K-12 education level, DeVos stopped enforcing a policy that had prohibited religious organizations from providing publicly funded services—such as tutoring, technology and counseling—in private schools. And she opened up federal grants for charter schools to religiously affiliated organizations.
The move: Many religious education groups praised DeVos’ changes, which she often described as effort to expand religious liberty. “Too many misinterpret the ‘separation of church and state’ as an invitation for government to separate people from their faith,” she said.
The move: The Biden administration is expected to move quickly to roll back many of DeVos’ education policies, but it’s not yet clear how the incoming administration will approach her various policy tweaks to promote religious organizations. — Michael Stratford
Trump's Interior Department set a new standard for ignoring Congress
David Bernhardt testifies during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing. | Zach Gibson/Getty Images
Trump’s Interior Department set a precedent that, while it may have escaped notice outside Washington, D.C., is almost certain to be influential going forward: It stonewalled Congressional oversight and got away with it.
The move: Interior Secretary David Bernhardt showed up for Congressional hearings that decided the fate of the department’s budget, but otherwise refused invitations from the House Natural Resources Committee to defend its policy actions under Trump. The attitude flowed down to sub-agency heads as well. Scott Angelle, the administration’s head of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, the office in charge of setting offshore drilling safety standards, told the committee he was “too busy” to answer the committee’s request that he explain its practice of handing out waivers on regulation put in place in response to the Deepwater Horizon rig disaster.
The impact: The foot-dragging in providing even basic information stretched to written requests from Congress and the public. House Democrats complained that Interior, in responding to written questions, would flood the zone with thousands of documents that had little relation to the topic at hand and even include pages containing nothing but Wingdings font. Interior was also sued by outside groups and subject to an internal watchdog audit over complaints it was slow walking public information requests.
The upshot: All in all, the agency got away with it: Democrats complained but never followed through on a subpoena threat. By the final six months of the Trump administration, Interior officials completely stopped attending House hearings meant to flag issues with the department. The behavior all but guarantees that future administrations will follow suit. — Ben Lefebvre
Legal marijuana spreads across most of the country
Allison Johnson, an employee of Buckeye Relief LLC, works on topping a marijuana plant, in Eastlake, Ohio. | David Dermer/AP Photo
Cannabis legalization advocates were alarmed when Trump picked Jeff Sessions as his first attorney general. For marijuana supporters, Sessions’ anti-cannabis rhetoric harkened back to “reefer madness“ days, and they feared he would crack down on the burgeoning state-regulated marijuana industry. Their fears were founded: In January 2018, Sessions rescinded the Cole memo, an Obama-era Justice Department guidance that called for deprioritizing marijuana enforcement. The memo had provided some protection for state-legal marijuana markets and informed how state governments set up their own cannabis laws. But a Sessions-led crackdown never materialized.
The move: Despite its anti-weed rhetoric, the Trump administration stood to the side as 18 states liberalized their marijuana laws from 2016 to 2020, including staunchly conservative states like Mississippi and South Dakota. Despite former Attorney General William Barr’s anti-trust scrutiny of cannabis deals, the federal government remained relatively hands-off on marijuana policy.
The impact: Cannabis is now legal in some form in 36 states, meaning that a majority of Americans have some form of legal access even though the drug remains officially illegal at the federal level. In fact, more than one-third of Americans now live in states with full legalization.
The upshot: Cannabis has become a massive business, generating billions in state revenues. The move toward legalization is likely to accelerate under a Biden administration, which is expected to pressure Congress to pass legislation fixing some legal problems for cannabis companies, such as access to banking, and might even move to change its illegal status under the federal Controlled Substances Act. — Mona Zhang
Trump curbed relief for defrauded students
Trump dismantled Obama-era policies that were designed to curb abuses by for-profit colleges, including rules designed to make it easier for borrowers to obtain loan forgiveness if they were cheated or duped by their college. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said the Obama administration’s approach was too lenient, akin to allowing borrowers to access “free money” at taxpayer expense.
The move: DeVos rewrote the Obama administration’s rules that govern when federal student loan borrowers can have their debt wiped out as a result of their college’s misconduct, imposing stricter standards of proof. She also required the Education Department to provide only partial loan relief in many cases, a departure from the Obama administration’s policy of providing full loan forgiveness. Congress moved to block the rules, with 10 GOP senators joining Democrats, but Trump vetoed the legislation and the new rules took effect.
The impact: Borrowers seeking to have their loans wiped out because of the misconduct of their college — such as misleading or deceiving students about their job prospects — will have a tougher time proving their claims. The Education Department estimates that the Trump policy will reduce federal loan forgiveness by hundreds of millions of dollars each year.
The upshot: Biden has already committed to swiftly reversing Trump’s changes to the rules, which are known as “borrower defense to repayment.” But he’s facing pressure from progressives to go further and provide sweeping debt cancellations to all borrowers, regardless of whether they were defrauded. — Michael Stratford
Trump made it easier to prosecute financial crimes like money laundering
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. | Susan Walsh/AP Photo
The Trump administration played a major but little-noticed role in pushing Congress to enact the most sweeping overhaul of financial crimes safeguards in decades, measures intended to stop money flowing to terrorists, drug traffickers and other wrongdoers. The legislation made its way into the National Defense Authorization Act, historically a must-pass bill each year. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin personally negotiated the anti-money laundering safeguards with Republicans and Democrats who crafted the deal.
The move: The new law would require millions of business entities to report their true owners, puncturing the veil of anonymity that shell companies give to money launderers and tax evaders and making it easier for prosecutors to literally follow the money.
The impact: The information businesses report to the Treasury Department would be accessible to law enforcement agencies that would have an unprecedented tool to investigate shell companies. Banks, which are responsible for policing criminal activity by their customers, would also be able to tap into the database.
The upshot: Criminals will keep finding ways to operate in the shadows. But the new disclosure rules could give law enforcement leverage over their frontmen and may make it harder for bad guys to find lawyers willing to help hide their money because of the new paper trail. — Zachary Warmbrodt
Trump shrank the food safety net — a lot
A Transportation Security Administration employee stands at a booth to learn about a food stamp program. | Julio Cortez/AP Photo
Under Trump, the Agriculture Department scaled back the $60 billion Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the food support program for low-income Americans formerly known as food stamps. The administration said it wanted to cut back on waste and save money within the program.
The move: In 2018, the Agriculture Department introduced a new rule that aimed to more strictly enforce certain work mandates under the program, making it more difficult for states to seek waivers from SNAP work requirements for able-bodied adults who aren’t caring for children or other dependents.
The impact: 755,000 Americans have lost their access to food aid under SNAP, according to the USDA’s own estimates.
The upshot: The courts could reverse the change. In October, a judge halted the rule and said that it “radically and abruptly alters decades of regulatory practice, leaving states scrambling and exponentially increasing food insecurity for tens of thousands of Americans.” But the Trump administration appealed that decision in December, prolonging the legal battle. — Liz Crampton
Millions of workers lost access to extra pay for long hours
Under Trump, the federal government rolled out a series of employer-friendly rules and decisions, many of which slid under the national radar. One of the most significant: His Labor Department finalized an overtime rule notably weaker than that issued under Obama, leaving millions of workers ineligible.
The move: In 2016, Obama’s Labor Department finalized a rule that would raise the salary threshold for overtime eligibility from around $24,000 to some $47,000 a year, with triennial increases. At the time, only about 6 percent of workers were eligible. But Trump’s White House declined to defend the rule in court, and in 2019, proposed its own, much more lax rule, which would raise the threshold to about $35,000 with no scheduled raises.
The impact: The Trump rule applies to just 15 percent of full-time, salaried workers, whereas the Obama rule would have applied to twice as many. That’s at least 8 million workers who would have been eligible for overtime pay under the 2016 version and now are ineligible some estimates place the amount of wages lost at around $1 billion annually.
The upshot: Biden’s role in the Obama administration, which proposed the original rule, and his sweeping pro-worker agenda indicate that he will likely overturn the Trump rule and issue his own overtime rule — though when, exactly, that will happen remains unclear. — Eleanor Mueller
On gas emissions, Trump went the opposite direction from the rest of the world
Pump jacks at an oil extraction site are seen at the Maria Fire. | Photo by David McNew/Getty Images
Trump’s attempts to roll back Obama-era rules aimed at cracking down on methane emissions had major implications for not only the near-term warming caused by this potent greenhouse gas, but also shrunk the United States’ stature on the global stage.
The move: The Trump administration loosened the standards oil and gas companies had to meet for how much methane — the largest chemical component of natural gas and a major heat-trapping substance — they could allow to leak out of pipelines, storage tanks and other oil field infrastructure. Senate Republicans had failed to kill the Obama rule at the beginning of the Trump administration, leaving the White House to roll back an environmental regulation even some oil and gas companies supported as a way to keep an increasingly green-minded public on their side.
The impact: Trump’s stance was the polar opposite of what China and European countries pledged to do to rein in emissions of a gas considered one of the leading causes of climate change. The Trump rollbacks, finalized in August, were considered so out of the norm that even oil companies such as BP and Shell publicly spoke out against them. The French government stepped in to force trading firm Engie, in which it owns a stake, to reject a proposed contract to import U.S. gas, citing reputational risk. Trump’s rejection of strict methane standards has also allowed Europe to claim the global mantle for fighting climate change.
The upshot: Trump’s rule changes are still being litigated in court and will be immediately in Biden’s sights for reversal when he officially takes office. But reputational damage has already been done. — Ben Lefebvre
Trump imposed a near-ban on government use of Chinese drones
A DJI Mavic Pro Quadcopter drone is seen in flight. | Omer Messinger/Getty Images
Like many Chinese products and services, Chinese-made drones became a focal point for the Trump administration. Federal agencies seeking to end China’s dominance of the drone market, amid concerns that equipment could be used to spy, have looked for ways to bolster domestic production.
The move: In late 2019, the Interior Department temporarily stopped all non-emergency use of its mostly Chinese-made drones after officials from several agencies — including the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Justice — warned that drones and drone equipment made in China might be used for espionage. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt further escalated efforts in October when he told department leadership that all future drone purchases should be vetted against a list of DoD-approved, U.S.-made drones. More recently the Commerce Department added China-based manufacturer DJI, which is the largest civilian drone manufacturer in the world, to a trade blacklist, citing concerns about the company’s possible involvement in human rights abuses by the Chinese government.
The impact: DJI’s placement on the trade blacklist doesn’t affect ordinary consumers or businesses, but it’s a significant blow to U.S. companies, such as Microsoft and PrecisionHawk, who do business with DJI including provide components for their drones. This is bad timing for those companies, since the FAA is getting ready to greenlight new commercial uses, such as drone-based delivery services, which will increase sales. What’s more, Congress may soon put even more restrictions on use of Chinese-made technology because of security concerns.
The upshot: While a Biden administration might be less prone to take actions to disrupt the global supply chain, it also might try to avoid perceptions of being soft on China. A Biden administration might use the Commerce Department’s blacklist as a “bargaining chip” with the Chinese government, meaning DJI might stay on the list for some time. Biden also has expressed support for bolstering U.S. drone manufacturing, which could translate to further actions that would reduce U.S. reliance on Chinese technology. — Stephanie Beasley
Trump made it possible to follow the Pentagon's money
The Pentagon makes up the largest slice of discretionary spending in the federal budget, so it might surprise you that until Trump, no one had conducted an audit of where America’s defense dollars go, and its financial accounting systems were notoriously messy and complicated.
The move: In 2018, the Trump administration for the first time attempted a Defense Department-wide audit. An army of 1,000 outside accountants and 150 personnel from the Defense Department inspector general's office fanned out to some 600 locations and collected 40,000 pages of financial documents.
The impact: In the end, as widely expected, the Pentagon failed the audit overall too much paperwork was missing or incomplete. Officials now predict the Defense Department won’t be able to pass a full audit until 2027 at the earliest. But there are bright spots: for example, the first time around the military pay system, an enormous stream of dollars, came back clean. In follow-up audits conducted in 2019 and 2020, meanwhile, a few more defense agencies and military components were added to the clean column.
The upshot: The overall exercise is seen as a milestone in the odyssey to someday verify where all our defense tax dollars are going. What’s more, the audit effort is helping Pentagon managers make their programs more efficient and minimize waste. Efforts to inject more accountability into Pentagon spending are likely to get even more intense during the Biden administration. — Bryan Bender
Trump goosed the economy with tax cuts that didn't pay political dividends
Activists hold signs during a Tax March D.C. event on the U.S. Capitol East Lawn. | Alex Wong/Getty Images
Trump’s biggest legislative achievement was arguably the $1.5 trillion tax cut package Republicans pushed through Congress, which he said would super-charge the economy.
The move: The 2017 tax bill slashed individual and corporate tax rates and made dozens of other major changes to the tax code that affected virtually every facet of the economy, from small businesses to university endowments.
The impact: The tax cuts helped goose the economy before the coronavirus struck, as unemployment fell steeply and the economy expanded, though many economists argued it was a sugar high or questioned whether a direct line could be drawn between the cuts and the good times. Also, the economic impact wasn’t all good — the tax cuts also fueled record deficits. Supporters inside and outside the Trump administration still insist the cuts will pay for themselves in the long run through economic growth — though many economists are skeptical, or outright dismissive, of that prediction.
The upshot: While the tax cuts benefited the economy in the short turn, they failed to pay political dividends for Trump. Polls showed the tax bill was never very popular, with the Democrats doing a good job of convincing voters it mainly benefited the wealthy. Biden has vowed to roll back much of the tax cut, particularly for high earners, by boosting the corporate tax rate to 28 percent from 21 percent and raising the top individual income tax rate to 39.6 percent from 37 percent for those earning more than $400,000 annually. However, he could have a hard time getting that through Congress, with Democrats holding a one-vote majority in the Senate and a diminished number of House seats. — Toby Eckert
Trump cracked down — mostly successfully — on unwanted calls and texts
For years the federal government made little headway against the plague of unwanted automated phone calls that have annoyed Americans — 19 billion such calls last year alone. Despite plenty of rancor, Trump and his agency heads succeeded in working with Congress to make significant headway in curbing — but not yet eliminating — the annoyance.
The move: At the end of 2019, Trump signed into law carefully crafted bipartisan legislation designed to ensure phone companies would install technology to verify that calls were authentic and bolster federal enforcement powers. These efforts built on work already underway at the FCC and among state attorneys general to ward off the unwanted calls and crack down on the perpetrators, many of whom were slapped with record-setting fines in recent years under FCC Chair Ajit Pai.
The impact: The volume of robocalls in 2020 seems to be on track to be lower than the previous two years, although the global pandemic could be affecting the numbers in ways not immediately apparent (not to mention prompting scams specific to Covid-19).
The upshot: Although these efforts will provide a strong foundation for any moves under Biden to further tamp down the number of calls, businesses say they still lack the legal clarity they need to use automated phone calls and texts for legitimate communication with their customers. Biden and Congress will now face pressure to provide such clarity. — John Hendel
Trump exiled climate scientists from Washington—literally.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue speaks during a forum in Washington, D.C. | Alex Wong/Getty Images
The Agriculture Department went to great lengths to quietly quash scientific research conducted by its employees or funded by government dollars, in particular research about how the agriculture industry could play a critical role in combating climate change. Secretary Sonny Perdue was aggressive in reshaping USDA, most overtly by relocating many of the department’s research scientists out of Washington to the Midwest.
The move: Officials refused to publicize dozens of studies that carry warnings about the effects of climate change on the agriculture sector. The department even stopped the release of a plan on how to respond to the climate change crisis.
The impact: Perdue’s contentious decision to relocate hundreds of scientists to Kansas City was among the reasons morale has been so low among department employees, prompting many of them to jump ship, leaving research agencies with a fraction of their former staff.
The upshot: The Biden administration is facing pressure to quickly rehire scientists to get USDA research agencies back to full capacity, and they are expected to boost spending on research studying threats facing the food system, including climate change. — Liz Crampton
Trump took a big swing at finally fixing health-care technology
A sign for a medical records department is seen. | M. Scott Mahaskey
Patients who have had to tote x-ray scans around hospitals, or explain their medicine allergies for the umpteenth time, are familiar with the problem Trump tried to fix: that having spent billions of dollars digitizing the health care system’s medical records, the information in those records does not exactly zip around at the speed of the internet.
The move: Early in 2020 — just before coronavirus upended daily life — the Trump administration released a big ball of rules meant to sweep aside barriers to sharing health information. The administration’s rules have several targets but they focus on practices like “information blocking,” whereby companies or providers might not release necessary data for competitive advantage, and require companies to use standardized recipes to exchange information.
The impact: Not much, yet. Providers and other parts of the industry successfully argued that complying with the rules would be too heavy a lift amid the pandemic, so the Trump administration has delayed the effective date.
The upshot: The provisions are, broadly speaking, popular and flow from bipartisan work beginning in the Obama administration. If anything, the biggest critics of the rules want them to be tougher and go into effect faster. For that reason, it’s unlikely a Biden administration will be looking to reverse course. — Darius Tahir
Trump rescinded rules protecting workers at federal contractors
On the eve of the #MeToo era, Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress repealed transparency safeguards designed to protect hundreds of thousands of people working for companies bidding for federal contracts from sexual harassment. Business groups vehemently opposed the requirements, which they dubbed the “Blacklist Rule,” arguing that the regulation was so broadly worded that potential contractors could be barred from doing work with the government based on allegations alone.
The move: In March 2017, Trump signed a Congressional Review Act resolution to revoke a regulation enacted under Obama the previous year that required businesses to publicly disclose any sexual harassment or labor law violations over the previous three years whenever they bid on large federal contracts. The goal of the rule was to prevent federal money from flowing to firms with a history of such infractions. The Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces rule also barred companies with federal contracts of more than $1 million from requiring that workers address claims of sexual harassment or sexual assault in private arbitration, taking away their option to sue in court.
The impact: Federal contractors with a history of sexual harassment or other labor violations can win bids without having to reveal their problematic history.
The upshot: Biden can reinstate the executive order, but it’s legally murky for the Department of Labor to reissue the rule because the Congressional Review Act bars agencies from issuing “substantially the same” regulation after it’s been overturned by Congress. — Rebecca Rainey
Trump went all-in on ending curbs on auto emissions, dividing the industry
A hybrid car charges at a charging station at a parking garage in Los Angeles. | Richard Vogel/AP Photo
Obama used his stimulus leverage over the auto manufacturers to negotiate landmark federal rules to curb carbon dioxide pollution from new vehicles through 2025 — a central component of his work to fight climate change. Automakers took advantage of Trump’s election to ask for moderate changes to those targets, but Trump instead completely scrambled the regulatory scheme, attacked California’s special regulatory authority and created a schism among automakers.
The move: The Obama administration’s plan would have required automakers to improve fuel efficiency by 5 percent per year, but the Trump administration rolled those targets back to just 1.5 percent improvement each year.
The impact: Vehicle emissions represent the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. and the rollback was likely the biggest climate-related action of Trump’s term, especially as electric utilities continue to move away from coal on their own and as electric vehicles are slow to take hold in the U.S. But some of the effect was mitigated when the state of California brokered a deal with five major auto manufacturers to meet standards similar to the Obama-era ones.
The upshot: The Biden administration is expected to laser in on the auto rules for reconsideration, but the multiyear lead time manufacturers need to design and test their vehicles means the gains mandated under the Obama-era rules but scaled back by Trump are all but forfeited. — Alex Guillén and Annie Snider
The anti-monopolists started winning — despite Trump at first, then with his help
Life-sized cutouts of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg are displayed by an advocacy group on Capitol Hill on April 10, 2018. | Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo
For the past decade, politicians on both sides of the aisle have expressed concerns about the growing size, power and influence of tech giants including Facebook, Google and Amazon, but rarely took action against them. Progressive anti-monopoly advocates were largely overruled during the Obama years at the U.S.’ two antitrust agencies, the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department. But amid growing conservative anger at the tech giants, Trump's regulators eventually joined the fight and dusted off an antitrust legal playbook that hadn’t been used since the breakup of AT&T in the 1980s.
The move: Early on, Trump’s tenure seemed to be following recent patterns by waving through major mergers like the combination of telecom giants Sprint and T-Mobile. But two Trump picks, FTC Chair Joe Simons and DOJ's Barr, have spent the past two years more aggressively looking into antitrust concerns raised by Silicon Valley. In recent months, the DOJ filed a landmark antitrust case against Google, its biggest monopolization case since the 1990s suit against Microsoft. The FTC, meanwhile, is pursuing its own watershed suit against Facebook that could see the social network broken up.
The impact: It’s too soon to tell whether the antitrust actions will succeed in forcing changes at Google or Facebook, but they have sent a signal that there will be more scrutiny of their business practices going forward.
The upshot: Both lawsuits will continue into the Biden administration — and possibly beyond. Major antitrust cases can take 3 to 5 years, and a trial in the Google suit likely won’t even begin till the fall of 2023. — Leah Nylen
A big crackdown on legal immigrants
Leo Wang, whose H-1B visa was denied in 2019, packs a suitcase at his home in San Jose, Calif. | Ben Margot/AP Photo
While it was no surprise to anyone who followed his 2016 presidential campaign that Trump wanted to crack down on illegal immigration at the southern border, his administration also imposed tighter restrictions on legal immigration, even of the high-skilled workers he claimed to want in the country.
The move: The Department of Homeland Security has pushed through restrictions and changes to the H-1B visa program that allows U.S. businesses to hire high-skilled foreign workers for “specialty“ jobs. Businesses rely on these workers to fill jobs they say they can’t fill with U.S. citizens. The administration, however, said U.S. employers are abusing the work visa because they want to replace American workers with cheaper foreign labor. The administration’s most recent rules sought to limit the types of jobs foreign workers can apply for, while also requiring employers to pay them more.
The impact: Some changes — including those that narrow the definition of a "specialty occupation" and that require employers to pay foreign workers more — were expected to reduce the number of approved H-1B visa petitions by one-third. Those efforts have since been halted in court. Businesses seeking these non-immigrant worker visas also saw an increase in requests to provide more evidence in their applications and a higher rate of visa denials.
The upshot: Biden promised during his campaign that he would support expanding the number of high-skilled visas available, but after first reforming the temporary visa system to prevent favoring “only entry level wages and skills.” That’s likely to be a heavy lift Congress hasn’t been able to pass comprehensive immigration reform since 1986. — Rebecca Rainey
Trump impeded regulation — even though Republicans wanted it
Trump’s EPA essentially blew up a bipartisan deal to more strictly regulate toxic chemicals that Americans are exposed to daily and instead tapped a group of chemicals industry experts to run and advise the program. The 2016 overhaul of the Toxic Substances Control Act, supported by both Democrats and Republicans, had given EPA new teeth to go after well-known dangerous chemicals, like asbestos and methylene chloride, in a bid to boost public confidence in the safety of consumer products.
The move: Trump officials muzzled scientists and civil servants at the agency and crafted narrow approaches to assessing chemicals’ dangers that have massive loopholes. Specifically, while under the new law Congress urged EPA to consider all possible exposures to a chemical, cumulatively, whether in the water, air, through consumer uses or exposure at work. But Trump’s EPA opted only to look at risks from exposures that couldn’t be regulated under other laws for instance, they wouldn’t weigh potential exposure to a chemical in drinking water since it could be regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act, even if it wasn’t. Trump’s EPA also mostly whiffed statutory deadlines to finish studying risks for the first round of chemicals under the 2016 law and was slapped by a federal court for ignoring certain ways Americans are exposed to toxins.
The impact: The administration’s approach paves the way for less stringent regulation of toxic chemicals. If the Biden EPA leaves the laxer evaluations intact, its subsequent regulations will not be able to limit certain ways people are exposed — meaning Americans may not get comprehensive protection. While it is likely the Biden administration will take a more holistic look at future chemicals EPA reviews, it is unclear whether it will have time to re-analyze the chemicals the Trump administration already finished reviewing.
The upshot: Biden’s EPA is expected to take a more holistic approach to assessing and addressing chemicals’ risks, but because of strict timelines set under the 2016 law, it is unclear to what extent it will be able to redo assessments done under the Trump administration. — Alex Guillén and Annie Snider