The Trump Clemencies: Celebrity, Chaos, and Lost Opportunity

38 Pages Posted: 23 Jun 2022

See all articles by Mark William Osler

Mark William Osler

University of St. Thomas - School of Law (Minnesota)

Date Written: June 17, 2022


The presidency of Donald Trump may have produced the most chaotic use of the constitutional pardon power in American history. Trump granted clemency to war criminals, to close friends, to celebrities and to the friends of celebrities, with much of it coming in a mad rush at the end of his single term. Buried beneath this rolling disaster was a brief moment of hope and a lost opportunity: the chance for a restructure of the clemency process in the Fall of 2018, enabled by a rare alignment of factors including Trump’s alienation from the Department of Justice and the interest of his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. This article explores the fullness of Trump’s clemency legacy and explores what was lost when a vehicle that could have helped stem over-incarceration died on the drafting table.

Keywords: Clemency, pardon power, pardon, commutation, Trump, Donald Trump, Jared Kushner, Lil' Wayne

JEL Classification: K14, K42

Suggested Citation

Osler, Mark William, The Trump Clemencies: Celebrity, Chaos, and Lost Opportunity (June 17, 2022). William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

Mark William Osler (Contact Author)

University of St. Thomas - School of Law (Minnesota) ( email )

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Minneapolis, MN Minnesota 55403-2005
United States
(254) 717-7032 (Phone)

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