With a rush of pardons expected before President Donald Trump leaves office, the White House has been holding multiple pardon meetings since the election, involving the White House counsel’s office and other staff, two senior administration officials told CNN.
The meetings include a list of potential pardon cases to be considered and ideas of who else should be included. White House officials such as Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner have weighed in, but the White House counsel’s office runs the meetings, one of the sources said.
While such meetings are not unusual and past presidents have issued pardons on their way out, the President’s past clemency for allies, such as Michael Flynn and Roger Stone, and potential preemptive pardon considerations for his family, bring an added dimension.
The Trump White House also acts fast once the President makes a decision, at times without Justice Department involvement, according to sources.
The White House declined to comment when reached out to by CNN.
Three sources with knowledge of the situation told CNN Kushner has not been personally involved in advocating for his own father, Charles Kushner, to get a pardon for his felony, but two of the sources said outside criminal justice groups who worked with Jared Kushner in the past have petitioned the White House to consider the pardon.
It’s known Kushner would like one, according to one source, and it’s so evident it doesn’t need to be discussed since the President is aware.
In 2004, Charles Kushner pleaded guilty to 16 counts of tax evasion, one count of retaliating against a federal witness — his brother-in-law — and another count of lying to the Federal Election Commission.
CNN previously reported that associates in Trump’s orbit, including his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, have approached the President to seek preemptive pardons. The President has also been talking with advisers about preemptively pardoning several people close to him, including his children and Jared Kushner.
The President has told advisers he feels he and his family have been unfairly targeted and that he’s concerned the legal pursuits could continue under the Biden Justice Department. Lawyers and allies of the President have been lobbying him for pardons ranging from their personal clients to people who Vice President-elect Kamala Harris put behind bars, according to multiple people. She was a state prosecutor and pardons only apply to federal crimes.
CNN reported Wednesday that the public should expect a “flurry” of pardons before Trump leaves office, a source close to the White House says, as has happened at the end of previous administrations.
This source, familiar with discussions on the matter, told CNN some of the President’s advisers believe that it would perfectly fine for Trump to pardon his family members and other associates preemptively, even though they haven’t been charged with any crimes.