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President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated as America’s 46th President this week in Washington DC. Incumbent President Donald Trump will not be attending Mr Biden’s inauguration, it has been announced, and he will depart the White House on the morning of Wednesday, January 20. But before Mr Trump’s presidency officially ends, he is expected to issue several presidential pardons.
What is a pardon?
Under the US Constitution, a president has the right to grant a presidential pardon.
The presidential pardon is a legally enshrined process, outlined in Article II, Section 2, Clause 1 of the Constitution.
The granting of a presidential pardon sets aside the punishment issued for a federal crime.
The issuing of presidential pardons has a long history in the US, and President Barack Obama issued 1,927 presidential pardons during his time in office.
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However the issuing of pardons has often been met with public criticism in the past.
President Gerard Ford famously issued a pardon to his predecessor, Richard Nixon.
Mr Nixon resigned from office following the Watergate scandal, having almost certainly faced impeachment and removal from office should he have stayed in his position.
Mr Ford’s decision to pardon Mr Nixon is widely regarded as one of the reasons behind Mr Ford’s failed attempt at re-election, as many had wished to see Mr Nixon face punishment.
What does it mean if Trump pardons someone?
Donald Trump has already issued 94 pardons to date, but there is a long-standing precedent of further pardons being issued on the last day a president is in office.
Someone who receives a presidential pardon from Mr Trump could see their sentence commuted or their fine removed if they have been convicted of a crime.
In the US, any federal crime is pardonable by the president except for impeachment.
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There has been significant speculation in recent weeks over who could be pardoned by Mr Trump on his last day of office.
According to reports, Mr Trump is expected to issue up to 100 pardons on his last full day in office on Tuesday.
Reuters sources suggest Mr Trump is likely to grant clemency to rapper Lil Wayne.
Lil Wayne pleaded guilty last month to possessing a loaded, gold-plated handgun when his chartered jet landed in Miami in December 2019, and he faces up to 10 years in prison.
However reports suggest Mr Trump will not grant pardons to lawyer Rudy Giuliani or ex-aide Steve Bannon.
Mr Giuliani has been a vocal supporter of the president’s claims of voter fraud during the US election last year.
Former senior White House advisor, Mr Bannon, has pleaded not guilty to charges that he defrauded donors to “We Build the Wall,” an online fundraising campaign that raised $25 million.
Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, was also not expected to get a pardon, the Reuters sources said.
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