Since Trump lost the election six weeks ago, calls and emails have been flooding into the West Wing from people looking to benefit from the President’s powers of clemency. So inundated is Trump’s staff with requests for pardons or commutations that a spreadsheet has been created to keep track of the requests directed to Trump’s close aides.
Trump, who refuses to acknowledge his loss and who officials say is devolving further into denial, has nonetheless been eager to engage on who is requesting what. He’s been handed case summaries to review and, in some instances, has polled his network of associates about whom he should pardon.
With the end of his presidency nearing, Trump appears eager to wield his powers before he finds them gone. Unlike practically any other matter related to the end of his presidency, his clemency powers are a topic Trump actually seems to enjoy discussing, one person in communication with the President said, even though it amounts to another tacit reminder that his tenure at the White House is nearly over.
That’s a stark contrast with how Trump has responded to another, smaller effort also ramping up as Inauguration Day approaches: an effort to convince Trump to accept the election results.
The Electoral College’s affirmation of President-elect Joe Biden’s win this week did not appear enough to shake Trump from his delusions of victory, but it is adding urgency to a push by several of his advisers to gently steer Trump toward reality. Several of his closest allies have urged him to move on from his efforts to contest the election and begin planning his post-White House political future — including a potential 2024 run.
Yet even amid the intractable movement of the transition and the hurried lame-duck activity — some of which he is participating in himself — Trump is steadfastly refusing to acknowledge that he lost.
In his moments of deepest denial, Trump has told some advisers that he will refuse to leave the White House on Inauguration Day, only to be walked down from that ledge. The possibility has alarmed some aides, but few believe Trump will actually follow through.
“He’s throwing a f***ing temper tantrum,” an adviser said. “He’s going to leave. He’s just lashing out.”
The White House declined to comment for this report.
Yet even amid his delusions, Trump is behaving like a president in winter: abandoning the principal responsibilities of his job as he looks for ways to reward loyalists while he still can.
Nowhere is the end of Trump’s term more obvious than in the push for pardons.
“It’s turned crazy,” one person familiar with the efforts said. “There’s a lot of activity.”
Because Trump has shown little interest in using the Justice…
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