Trump Pardons Big Money Rappers, Donors—But Not Whistleblowers
During the final days of Donald Trump’s presidency, there was endless speculation as to who Trump might pardon. Trump supporters were particularly enthused about the prospect of pardons for whistleblowers like Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht, and CIA torture investigator John Kiriakou.
In the end, Trump didn’t pardon any of them. But he did pardon his chief strategist Steve Bannon, who bilked his supporters in a “We Build the Wall” online fundraising scheme; rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black; Elliot Broidy, who according to CNN is “a former top fundraiser for Trump’s campaign who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy relating to a secret lobbying campaign to influence the Trump administration on behalf of a foreign billionaire in exchange for millions of dollars”; as well as many other well-heeled and well-funded donors.
This should come as no surprise.
On Fox News Tuesday night, Tucker Carlson claimed he had heard that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had informed Trump that if he pardoned Assange, Republicans would be “much more likely to convict” Trump during the Senate’s impeachment trial over the Capitol riot on January 6.
On his show, Carlson called on Trump to pardon Assange and Kiriakou anyway. He said that Assange was in jail for “telling the truth.” Back in 2016, candidate Trump said he “loved” Assange’s Wikileaks.
Meanwhile, Democracy Now reported the following:
Former CIA analyst and whistleblower @JohnKiriakou says one of Rudy Giuliani's aides told him a pardon from Trump would cost $2 million. “They don’t see this as a bribe,” says Kiriakou. “This is the way Washington works.” https://t.co/OPbwZtfvm7 pic.twitter.com/FtUZLabBzU
— Democracy Now! (@democracynow) January 20, 2021
And from Congressman Thomas Massie:
The omission of Snowden, Assange, and Ulbricht, from the pardons and commutations list speaks volumes. The President went 0 for 3 in his final round with the swamp.
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) January 20, 2021
Trump did find time to issue a last-minute pardon to Albert Pirro, the ex-husband of Fox News’ Judge Jeanine Pirro, who served time in prison for tax evasion and conspiracy.
After the pardon list was released, Julian Assange’s mother, Christine Assange, tweeted:
Full list of final Trump Pardons
So much for "Drain The Swamp" & taking down the #DeepState
My journalist son Julian Assange brutally persecuted for doing more to expose the deep state than any other journalist in history.. is not on the list https://t.co/t1VY3iDV4R
— ?Christine Assange #FreeAssangeNOW (@MrsC_Assange) January 20, 2021
Many Trump supporters had hoped that “draining the swamp” would also include clemency for Edward Snowden:
I am not at all disappointed to go unpardoned by a man who has never known a love he had not paid for. But what supporters of his remain must never forgive that this simpering creature failed to pardon truth-tellers in far more desperate circumstances:https://t.co/luyYyBViYE
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) January 20, 2021
Snowden also wrote, “Oh yes, who can forget President Pat Cipollone? No, the failure to pardon Assange falls on one man, and history will remember it was not a White House lawyer.”