Donald Trump
Credit: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff/flickr

Apparently Trump is obsessed with his pardon power these days, and it isn’t hard to guess why.

President Trump has become fixated on his ability to issue pardons, asking his aides to compile a list of candidates and stirring dissent in the West Wing with his mercurial and seemingly celebrity-driven decisions…

The presidential pardon holds a special resonance for Trump, representing one area where he has almost unchecked power as other aspects of his presidency — especially special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s ongoing probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election — remain outside his control, according to his aides and advisers.

Trump entered the White House expecting to have few limits on his power — envisioning the presidency as more like his private business than a plodding bureaucracy. He has grown frustrated over what he views as Republican impotence on Capitol Hill, Mueller’s sprawling investigation and a coterie of aides who are at times riven by infighting.

But on pardons, he has been able to act unchecked, and has recently even floated the idea that he has authority to pardon himself, though suggested he will not do so.

According to CNN, the president has already prepared the paperwork to pardon at least 30 people. Where did the names come from, you might ask.

Trump has begun asking friends who else he should pardon, according to an adviser who frequently speaks to the president, and some have offered suggestions.

Based on the people Trump has pardoned so far and the names that are floating around the rumor mill, I thought it might be helpful to compile a list of the ways Americans can go about getting a pardon from the president.

  1. Be a celebrity (especially one that has appeared on The Apprentice)
  2. Know someone the president talks to regularly
  3. Know someone who is a celebrity
  4. Do a segment on Fox News
  5. Commit a crime that really pisses off liberals

Of course, I’m being a bit snarky about this, even if it is all true. That’s because I remember all of the hand-wringing over President Obama’s clemency initiative. People called it a “quagmire” because the process was so thorough. I guess that as an alternative, Obama could have simply called up a friend and asked them who he should pardon today, which is exactly the kind of thing he was trying to avoid.

The president complained that the pardon attorney’s office favored petitions from wealthy and connected people, who had good lawyers and knew how to game the system.

With a con man in the Oval Office, it shouldn’t surprise us that we’re back to pardons being given to whoever has the right connections and is really good at gaming the system. So if you happen to know someone who deserves one, your best bet might be to see if they can get a spot on Fox News, unless Kim Kardashian or Sylvester Stallone’s phone number is in your contact list.

Nancy LeTourneau

Follow Nancy on Twitter @Smartypants60.