Trump announces 15 pardons, five commutations

Image of the south facade of the White House.

On Dec. 22, President Donald Trump (R) issued 15 pardons and five commutations. Those pardoned included former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos and former congressmen Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), and Steve Stockman (R-Texas).

President Trump has issued 43 pardons and 21 commutations while in office. Of those, Trump issued 28 pardons and 15 commutations in fiscal years 2020 and 2021.

By comparison, President Barack Obama (D) issued 212 pardons and 1,715 commutations during his eight-year term. The last one-term president, George H.W. Bush (R), issued 74 pardons and three commutations.

Between fiscal years 1902 and 2021, presidents issued 14,233 pardons and 6,568 commutations. Democrats have issued more of both (8,393 pardons and 4,103 commutations) than Republicans (5,840 pardons and 2,465 commutations). These figures do not include instances of mass pardons such as in 1974 when President Ford pardoned individuals who evaded the draft during the Vietnam War.

The U.S. Constitution, in Article II, Section 2, grants the president the power of executive clemency. Executive clemency includes the power to pardon, in which the president overturns a federal conviction and restores “an individual to the state of innocence that existed before the conviction,” and the power of commutation, which allows a president to shorten or reduce a federal prison sentence. Executive clemency is limited to federal offenses.