President Donald Trump is expected to pardon rapper Lil Wayne in the closing days of his presidency.
Trump will leave the White House Wednesday morning and fly out of Washington before 8 a.m. after issuing around 100 pardons to white collar criminals, high-profile rappers and a jailed Florida eye doctor, according to reports.
Fox News reported Monday that Lil Wayne, who is facing prison time for a 2019 gun charge, would be on the list, while former aide Steve Bannon is ‘TBD.’
Bannon was charged with defrauding Trump supporters who were donating money to help build the president’s proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is not expected to receive a pardon from Trump despite a hard push by Assange’s supporters.
Assange faces 175 years in prison from charges including violating the Espionage Act.
President Donald Trump is expected to pardon around 100 people in his final days in office, including rapper Lil Wayne
Lil Wayne is expected to be pardoned by President Donald Trump before he leaves office on Wednesday
A pardon for Steve Bannon (left) is ‘TBD’ Fox News Channel reported Monday morning, while Julian Assange (right) is not expected to be pardoned
The outgoing president is due to hold a farewell ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, in Maryland, on Wednesday.
He will then depart the nation’s capital on Air Force One and head to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida before his successor is sworn in.
White House aides have reportedly sent out invitations for the event, with guests instructed to arrive between 6am and 7:15am. Specific details regarding the ceremony are said to still be under consideration, but it may include a color guard and 21-gun salute.
Attendees are permitted to bring up to five guests but have been instructed to wear masks throughout, Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs reported.
For his final full day in office on Tuesday, Trump is also reportedly gearing up to issue around 100 pardons and commutations after weeks of speculation.
A rumored recipient of one of the clemency actions is Dr. Salomon Melgen, an eye doctor from Palm Beach who was imprisoned in 2018 after being convicted on dozens of counts of health care fraud.
So far, Trump has reportedly made no plans to pardon himself or his children, CNN reported. The White House reportedly held a meeting Sunday to finalize the list of pardons, according to two sources.
Trump had previously issued a number of pardons in the lead up to Christmas, but allegedly put them on pause in the days before and after the riots at the US Capitol on January 6.
Moving trucks are pictured on West Executive Avenue between the West Wing of the White House and the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Sunday
A rumored recipient of one of the clemency actions is Dr. Salomon Melgen (pictured in 2013), a prominent eye doctor from Palm Beach who was imprisoned in 2018 after being convicted on dozens of counts of health care fraud
White House aides told CNN Trump was entirely focused on the Electoral College count in the days preceding the riot, which prevented him from finalizing his decision on pardons. Officials then expected him to resume of January 6, but he reportedly withdrew after being blamed for inciting the insurrection.
Trump’s Tuesday batch of clemency actions is expected to include a mixture of criminal justice reform-minded pardons, in addition to more controversial ones issued to his political allies.
He could also decide at the last minute to grant pardons to members of his family or even himself, though that’s not thought to be currently under consideration.
Trump’s desire to pardon himself, his children, and his personal layer Rudy Giuliani has said to have been complicated by the Capitol riots – an event which led to his second impeachment.
The 45th US president was reportedly advised to forgo a self-pardon in the riot’s wake, because it would appear as if he was guilty of something, a source familiar with the matter told CNN.
Trump was further advised to refrain from granting clemency to anyone involved in the deadly attack on the Capitol, in contrast to his initial stance that those involved were ‘patriots’ who had done nothing wrong.
‘There are a lot of people urging the President to pardon the folks [involved in the riots]’ Senator Lindsey Graham told Fox News. ‘To seek a pardon of these people would be wrong.’
While Trump is expected to leave the White House early Wednesday morning, he could continue to issue pardons up until noon on Inauguration Day.
Other high profile names such as Wikileaks founder Julian Assange are also not currently believed to be among those set to receive a pardon, though the list is said to be fluid.
Trump’s allies predict the president will issue pardons that he believes may be of benefit to him after he leaves office.
‘Everything is a transaction. He likes pardons because it is unilateral,’ a source told CNN. ‘And he likes doing favors for people he thinks will owe him.’
While Trump (pictured January 12) is expected to leave the White House early Wednesday morning, he can continue to issue pardons up until noon on Inauguration Day
The outgoing president is due to hold a farewell ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, in Maryland, the usual jumping-off point for Air Force One (pictured)
One of those said to be in line to receive a pardon is Dr. Salomon Melgen.
Melgen, once a prominent Palm Beach eye doctor, received a 17-year sentence in 2018 for stealing $73 million from Medicare by persuading elderly patients to undergo tests and treatments they didn’t need for diseases they didn’t have.
In total, he was convicted of 67 crimes, including health care fraud, submitting false claims and falsifying records in patients’ files.
In 2017, he was also ensnared in a public corruption scandal alongside New Jersey Democratic Senator Robert Menendez.
A federal jury remained hung after a two-and-a-half month trial, in which prosecutors tried to prove Melgen’s gifts to Menendez were actually bribes.
In return, prosecutors claimed Menendez interceded with Medicare officials investigating his practice, obtained visas for Melgen’s foreign mistresses, and pressured the State Department to intervene in a business dispute he had with the Dominican government.
Both men pleaded not guilty to 18 counts of fraud and bribery saying the European and Dominican vacations and other gifts were tokens of their longtime friendship.
After a judge threw out of the charges in the case, prosecutors decided in January 2018 not to retry the bribery case and it was subsequently dismissed by the Justice Department.
In 2017, Melgen (left) was also ensnared in a public corruption scandal alongside New Jersey Democratic Senator Robert Menendez (right)
The White House reportedly held a meeting Sunday to finalize the list of pardons, according to two sources
Inside the White House, there has been a reported frenzy among allies lobbyists and others hoping to cash in on their loyalty to Trump and secure a pardon.
The New York Times reported Sunday some of those people were getting paid tens of thousands of dollars to lobby on behalf of felons hoping for pardons.
In one document, a former top adviser to Trump’s campaign agreed to receive a payout of $50,000 if he could sway the president to pardon John Kirakou, a former CIA officer convicted of disclosing classified information.
Separately, Rudy Giuliani’s associate allegedly told Kiriakou over drinks at Trump Hotel in Washington D.C. last year that if he paid Trump’s personal attorney $2 million, he would use his sway as one of the president’s closest advisers to secure him the pardon.
Although Kiriakou did not accept the offer, an associate alerted the FBI to Giuliani potentially illegally selling pardons – but the former New York City mayor and Trump’s personal attorney has challenged this characterization.
Giuliani has come under fire recently for firing up a crowd of thousands of Trump supporters, telling them to engage in ‘trial by combat’, before they marched over to the U.S. Capitol and stormed the building to delay Congress from certifying the election for Joe Biden.
Recently reports also reveal Giuliani has fallen out of favor with the president in his failed legal attempts to challenge the election results.
Rudy Giuliani’s associate allegedly told Kiriakou over drinks at Trump Hotel in Washington D.C. last year that if he paid Trump’s personal attorney $2 million, he would use his sway as one of the president’s closest advisers to secure him the pardon
A press riser with banners for President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris ahead of the inauguration, is seen outside the north gate at the White House
Trump announced on January 8 that he would be skipping Biden’s inauguration, becoming the first living US president in more than a century to choose not to attend the traditional exchange of power. He will instead be at his Mar-a-Lago resort as Biden is sworn in at noon.
Vice President Mike Pence, meanwhile, is slated to attend the inauguration.
Pence reportedly called Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Thursday to congratulate her and offer assistance less than a week before she is sworn is as his successor, USA Today reported.
Biden and Trump are understood not to have spoken since the election concluded. Last week, the President-elect dismissed Trump’s decision to skip his inauguration, calling it ‘one of the few things he and I ever agreed on.’
Of Pence, Biden said he was ‘welcome to come’ and said he’d ‘be honored to have him there’.
Trump and Pence’s relationship has reportedly soured dramatically in recent weeks after the vice president defied the president by fulfilling his constitutional role in counting the electoral votes that confirmed Biden’s victory.
Trump had previously attempted to pressure Pence to overturn the results by rejecting electoral votes – something the vice president does not have the authority to do.
The president then instead spoke ahead of a rally in DC on January 6, urging the gathered crowd to descend on the US Capitol. The crowd obliged by storming the legislature, with some rioters chanting ‘Hang Mike Pence’, as they ransacked and vandalized the building.
Trump later became the first president in history to be impeached twice, after Democratic lawmakers accused him of inciting an insurrection for his remarks before the protest.
Trump announced on January 8 that he would be skipping Biden’s inauguration, becoming the first living US president in more than a century to choose not to attend the traditional exchange of power. He will instead be at his Mar-a-Lago resort as Biden is sworn in at noon
Last week, President-elect Biden dismissed Trump’s decision to skip his inauguration, calling it ‘one of the few things he and I ever agreed on’
The 45th US President was also widely criticized for failing to denounce the chaos that unfolded in the heart of nation’s democracy.
Earlier Sunday, his press secretary Hogan Gidley said Trump can’t denounce the Capitol riots because he doesn’t have access to social media, having been indefinitely banned from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and a host of other platforms.
‘The media are trying to have it both ways,’ Gidley said. ‘On the one hand, [media says] he should be censored by big tech and not be allowed to talk.
‘He also shouldn’t say anything because it’s divisive. And then when he doesn’t say anything and can’t say anything because the platform have removed him, they say, “Where’s the president? Why aren’t we hearing from him?” The whole thing is disingenuous.’
Discussing voter fraud claims that have been central to Trump’s fury since his election loss, Gidley said Trump is ‘getting that information from advisers who are telling him they have evidence of certain things. So he’s going to come out and say “here’s what I know” or “here’s what I’ve been told.” The President doesn’t make these things up.”
Following the chaos inside the Capitol last week, U.S. defense officials say they are worried about an insider attack or other threat from service members involved in securing President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. The fears have prompted the FBI to vet all of the 25,000 National Guard troops coming into Washington for the event.
Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told The Associated Press on Sunday that officials are conscious of the potential threat, and he warned commanders to be on the lookout for any problems within their ranks as the inauguration approaches.
So far, however, he and other leaders say they have seen no evidence of any threats, and officials said the vetting hadn’t flagged any issues.
‘We’re continually going through the process, and taking second, third looks at every one of the individuals assigned to this operation,’ McCarthy said in an interview after he and other military leaders went through an exhaustive, three-hour security drill in preparation for Wednesday’s inauguration.
‘The question is, is that all of them? Are there others?’ said McCarthy. ‘We need to be conscious of it and we need to put all of the mechanisms in place to thoroughly vet these men and women who would support any operations like this.’
Following the chaos inside the Capitol last week, U.S. defense officials say they are worried about an insider attack or other threat from service members involved in securing President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration