With less than 12 hours before the end of his presidency, Donald Trump issued 143 pardons and commutations, including a pardon for Steve Bannon, his former chief strategist and campaign manager. Trump, who has pardoned other associates and allies during his single term, has so far rejected calls to pardon prominent whistleblowers including WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and NSA whistleblowers Edward Snowden and Reality Winner. Details continue to emerge about how allies of Trump have personally profited from people seeking pardons. We speak with John Kiriakou, a former CIA analyst and case officer who exposed the Bush-era torture program and was the only official jailed in connection to it, about the pardon system. He says an associate of Trump personal attorney Rudy Giuliani offered him a pardon for $2 million, which Kiriakou declined to pay. “They don’t see this as a bribe,” says Kiriakou. “This is the way Washington works.”
Other high-profile pardons included Elliott Broidy, one of Trump’s top fundraisers in 2016, and three former Republican congressmen — Rick Renzi, Robin Hayes and Randall “Duke” Cunningham — added to another several congressmen, early Trump supporters, that Trump gave commutations or pardons to. Trump also gave a pardon to Ken Kurson, a close friend of Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law. Kurson is the former editor of The New York Observer, who was arrested in October for cyberstalking three people, including his ex-wife. The rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black also received pardons. The White House announced the latest pardons shortly before 1 a.m. this morning.
Trump had previously pardoned other top associates, including former campaign manager Paul Manafort, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, adviser Roger Stone, as well as Jared Kushner’s father, as well as four Blackwater mercenaries who massacred 17 Iraqis in the 2007 Nisoor Square massacre in Baghdad, Iraq.
This all comes as more details emerge about how allies of Trump have personally profited from people seeking pardons. The New York Times reports an associate of Rudy Giuliani told CIA torture whistleblower John Kiriakou a pardon is, quote, “going to cost $2 million.” Kiriakou declined the offer, but he did pay $50,000 to a former top Trump campaign adviser for help in his quest to secure a pardon.Profiting from Pardons: Giuliani Aide Told CIA Whistleblower a Trump Pardon Would Cost $2 Million | Democracy Now!