Trump mulling pardons on last full day in power

WASHINGTON (AFP) – United States (US) President Donald Trump began his final full day in the White House yesterday with a long list of possible pardons to dish out before snubbing his successor Joe Biden’s inauguration and leaving for Florida.

Today at noon, Biden will be sworn in and the Trump presidency will end, turning the page on some of the most disruptive, divisive years the US has seen since the 1960s.

Trump has remained uncharacteristically silent as the clock ticks down to his departure to a new life in his Mar-a-Lago golf club residence in Palm Beach.

Banned by Twitter for his stream of inflammatory messages and misinformation, he has largely stopped communicating with the nation. He has also yet to congratulate Biden or invite him for the traditional pre-inauguration cup of tea in the Oval Office.

Instead, Trump has spent his time meeting with a dwindling circle of loyalists who backed him during a doomed, two-month effort to overturn the results of the November election.

That effort culminated on January 6 with Trump encouraging a crowd to march on Congress. After the crowd broke through police, killing one officer, and trashed the hallowed Capitol building, Trump was impeached for the second time in just over a year – another first in a presidency of many firsts.

US President Donald Trump. PHOTO: AFP

Instead, Trump has spent his time meeting with a dwindling circle of loyalists who backed him during a doomed, two-month effort to overturn the results of the November election.

That effort culminated on January 6 with Trump encouraging a crowd to march on Congress. After the crowd broke through police, killing one officer, and trashed the hallowed Capitol building, Trump was impeached for the second time in just over a year – another first in a presidency of many firsts.

His final Gallup poll as president on Monday showed him exiting with 34 per cent approval, his record low. Trump’s overall average of 41 per cent since taking office is also the lowest for any presidency’s approval rating since Gallup began measuring in 1938.

Biden, meanwhile, is putting the finishing touches to an inauguration that will feature a small crowd and massive security – more fallout from the pro-Trump riot, on top of existing concerns about Covid-19.

Trump issued a scattering of last-minute orders on Monday, most notably a lifting of the travel bans imposed because of the coronavirus on most of Europe and Brazil.

Under Trump’s order, borders were to have re-opened from January 26, almost a week after he leaves office. Responding almost immediately, Biden’s spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the measure would not stand.

For Trump, the main piece of unfinished business is now the expected slew of pardons that he is reported to be preparing.

According to CNN and other US outlets, Trump has a list of about 100 people he will grant clemency to.

After what The New York Times reports has been an intense lobbying effort, these are expected to be a mix of white-collar criminals and people whose cases have been championed by criminal justice activists.