Trump’s Pattern of Pardons and Commutations

Lawfare has some very interesting data.

Let me point everyone to this piece at Lawfare: Trump’s Aberrant Pardons and Commutations which includes a rather stunning data set (here).

Specifically, the analysis shows that 31 of 36 (86.11%) of Trump’s pardons and commutations fits one of these four criteria:

(1) Did it advance a clear political goal of the president?; (2) Did the person who was pardoned have a personal connection to Trump or someone Trump knows well?; (3) Was the person who was pardoned brought to the President’s attention by television or a television commentator?; (4) Was the pardon based on Trump’s admiration for celebrity?

I recommend reading the whole thing and checking out the linked spreadsheet.

Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. dazedandconfused says:

    Also to be considered is who he doesn’t pardon or commute, and how Barr’s “Justice” dept. is acting towards Roger Cohen. Traitors are not only ineligible for commutation, they are subject to special treatment:

    Abandoning one’s 1st Amendment rights as a condition of parole? Is there a precedent for that?

  2. de stijl says:

    I have been holding in a rant for days. I need to let it out so I can free of hate.

    Republicans? Fuck you!

    You foisted this fucking fool on us. He was obviously unfit and narcissitic and utterly lacked any traits or skills suited to the job.

    You had choices. You chose Trump. And by a wrinkle in our Constitution got him in the big chair even though he lost the popular vote.


    How soon is November?

  3. Andy says:

    And if you’ll notice, the other five all happened on the same day. So he spent a single day looking at deserving people across the country, chose five, and then got back to mob-boss stuff.

  4. JohnMcC says:

    Apologies if this is too off-topic, but it’s hard not to observe this synoptically with the ‘offer’ made to Michael Cohen yesterday. He was invited to sign an agreement not to speak to media or produce a book at his appearance in regards to having been pictured eating at a restaurant while out of prison due to the epidemic.

    When he decided not to give up his 1st Amendment rights, whoop! back to prison.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @dazedandconfused: That surprises me not at all. One has no rights in prison, well maybe the right to breath but that one isn’t in the constitution, and one’s rights are very much constrained when on probation and parole. It kinda comes with the territory.

    ETA: @JohnMcC: I hadn’t read any accounts, that info puts a slightly different shoe on the other foot.

  6. SC_Birdflyte says:

    Shocking! Who could have imagined such a thing?

  7. de stijl says:


    It is also reported he refused to wear his ankle monitor.

  8. Teve says:

    Goddamn The Lincoln Project is bringing it.

    It’s not a campaign, it’s a billion-dollar criminal enterprise

  9. An Interested Party says:

    @Teve: RICO charges probably should be brought against this administration…by the way, where were these folks coming up with these outstanding attack ads during the Republican primaries in 2016…

  10. DrDaveT says:

    @An Interested Party:

    RICO charges probably should be brought against this administration…by the way, where were these folks coming up with these outstanding attack ads during the Republican primaries in 2016…

    Every Democratic candidate for Senate this fall needs to go all in on how his/her opponent knowingly voted to keep this orange turd in office, AND explicitly gave him carte blanche to flout whatever laws he liked.