5 People Trump Gave A "Full & Unconditional Pardon" To — But Not Alice Marie Johnson

by Chris Tognotti
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Never doubt that Kim Kardashian gets results. On Wednesday, following a meeting last week with the reality TV star, President Donald Trump commuted the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, a 63-year-old grandmother who was serving a life sentence in prison on a first-time, non-violent drug charge. He did not pardon her, however, meaning that he didn't wipe her record clean ― she's still a convicted felon, but she'll be released from prison.

This raises a compelling question: how does Trump decide who deserves to have their slate wiped totally clean? What sorts of people ― found guilty of which sorts of crimes ― does the president believe are deserving of a full pardon, rather than merely a commutation?

In Johnson's case, it's far from an academic question. Although she definitely has reason to feel grateful to the president ― and maybe even more so to Kardashian, who championed her cause for months ― the fact that the felony will remain on her criminal record can have big implications. People reentering society with these sorts of criminal records can face huge barriers in housing and employment, for example, and in many states, lose their voting rights.

So, how many people has Trump pardoned so far, and how (if at all) do their backgrounds and offenses stack up against Johnson's? Here's the full list dating back to the start of his presidency, which began on Jan. 20, 2017.


Sheriff Joe Arpaio

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The first-ever pardon of the Trump era was about as controversial as it gets: Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Arizona's Maricopa County, widely considered one of the most infamous anti-immigrant law enforcement officials in the country. The founder of the so-called "tent city" detention facility for immigrants, Arpaio was ordered by a court to halt his immigration raids, but was subsequently found to have continued detaining people without probable cause that a crime had been committed.

He was subsequently convicted of criminal contempt of court, and lost his reelection bid for Maricopa County sheriff. Trump pardoned him in August 2017, suggesting that he was "convicted for doing his job." He was granted a "full and unconditional pardon."


Kristian Mark Saucier

In March, Trump issued a "full and unconditional pardon" to Kristian Mark Saucier, a former U.S. Navy sailor who was convicted for taking photographs of classified sections of the USS Alexandria, a nuclear-equipped submarine, back in 2009. Saucier pleaded guilty and served 12 months in prison, but has been lobbying for a presidential pardon since his release.

Trump occasionally invoked Saucier's name during the 2016 presidential campaign, arguing it was hypocritical that Saucier was convicted for his crime while no charges were brought against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton regarding her use of a private email server.


Lewis "Scooter" Libby

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Lewis "Scooter" Libby was a Bush administration official ― in fact, the chief of staff for former vice president Dick Cheney ― who was charged and convicted with obstruction of justice and perjury, relating to the administration's leaking of the identity of former CIA agent Valerie Plame in 2003.

In April, Trump issued a "full and unconditional pardon" to Libby, commenting that he'd been "treated unfairly" by a special counsel investigation. Notably, Trump himself is currently embroiled in his own special counsel investigation.


Jack Johnson

In May, Trump issued a "full and unconditional pardon" to John Arthur Johnson, better known as Jack Johnson, a boxer, and the former heavyweight champion of the world.

Johnson was the first black man to reign as heavyweight champion, from the years 1908 through 1915, and his dominance and high visibility in the sport made him the target of intense racist aggression. In 1912, he was arrested and convicted under the Mann Act, in what's now widely viewed as a racist pretext for imprisoning and disgracing him.

He fled the United States for eight years rather than serve the sentence, ultimately being imprisoned for a year upon his return in 1920. He died in a car crash in 1946, with the conviction still on his record. Trump reportedly moved to pardon Jackson following lobbying by actor Sylvester Stallone.


Dinesh D'Souza

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Right-wing commentator Dinesh D'Souza pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance law in 2014, after it was revealed that he'd used "straw donors" to exceed the legal limit on donations to a longtime friend's political campaign.

The vehemently conservative D'Souza ― who's produced multiple films assailing the Democratic Party and its leaders, which critics have noted are contain various baseless conspiracy theories and historical inaccuracies ― was ultimately sentenced to eight months in a halfway house, and five years of probation.

On the very last day of May, however, Trump gave D'Souza a "full and unconditional pardon," wiping his slate clean and ending his ongoing probation.

This will not be the reality for Johnson, although she will be getting out of prison ― with her sentence commuted, but no pardon issued, she will continue to live with a felony conviction on her record.