Could Ghislaine Maxwell be next to receive a presidential pardon from Donald Trump?
The pardon of celebrities would be extremely controversial
It's got to the point, who else is there?
After pardoning all prime suspects including Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and four Blackwater military mercenaries convicted of murdering more than a dozen Iraqi civilians, idle thoughts turned to who else Donald Trump had up his sleeve could. Dare he apologize to Ghislaine Maxwell, who is accused of trading girls and young women for the late Jeffrey Epstein?
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Given that he has all but given up any government claim - he was pictured on the golf course the day before Christmas even though the White House insisted he "work tirelessly" - the president seems to be focused on two things.
One is to somehow reverse the result of the election he lost to Joe Biden, an increasingly joyless undertaking that would oblige the Senate not to ratify the electoral college at its January 6th session.
The second is to try to use your remaining days as president to try to settle points, repay favors, and generally wreak havoc.
The decision to apologize to his one-time national security advisor was long awaited as Trump felt he had been mistreated.
Those issued to George Papadopoulos, Paul Manafort and London-based Dutch attorney Van der Zwaan were also convicted as part of Robert Mueller's investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 elections. This investigation has repeatedly been despised by the President.
Those following such matters point out that previous presidents waited until their final days before announcing their most controversial pardons.
Bill Clinton, who issued 450 pardons in total, issued a third on his last day as president - January 20, 2001. Among the most controversial were Marc Rich, a large donor financier Mr. Clinton, and his half-hassle Robert Clinton, who a decade earlier had served a ten-year prison sentence for drug offenses. He also pardoned Patty Hearst.
Barack Obama issued 1,385 commutations and 212 pardons. Among the most notable was the commutation to Chelsea Manning for passing material to Wikileaks that Obama announced in his last week as president.
Richard Nixon ordered the release of Lt William Calley in 1971, the only person convicted in connection with the 1968 My Lai massacre.
In 1992, George WH Bush apologized for the former Defense Minister Caspar Weinberger and five other people for their involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal.
If Mr Trump was going to go out with a bang, Ms. Maxwell's pardon would surely fit into the bill. The 58-year-old UK-born celebrity has been accused of trafficking young women and girls for her sometimes partner Epstein, who committed suicide in prison in 2019 and is awaiting trial. She pleaded not guilty.
Such a step would cause an outcry, but it is not entirely unimaginable. That summer, after she was arrested, Mr Trump spoke of her in terms that many found inappropriate.
"I've met her many times over the years, especially since I've lived in Palm Beach, and I think you lived in Palm Beach," he told reporters at a coronavirus briefing. "But I wish her all the best, whatever it is."
He was later asked about it when he appeared in a television interview for Axios.
“Your girlfriend or boyfriend was either killed or killed in prison. She is now in jail, "said Trump, who seemed to have a great appreciation for Epstein two decades ago and was a visitor to his Mar-a-Lago club.
“Yes, I wish her all the best. I would wish you all the best. I would wish many people all the best. Good luck. Let them prove someone was guilty. "
If Mr Trump wanted to upset intelligence and national security, he could also include Wikileaks' founder Julian Assange, who is currently fighting extradition to the US where he could be jailed for up to 175 years if convicted, or a former CIA contractor apologize and whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Mr Assange's partner, Stella Morris, who is also the mother of his two children, has asked Mr Trump to release him. She recently tweeted, "Please, please take him home for Christmas."
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