WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Donald Trump on Monday issued full pardons to five individuals and commuted the sentences of two others convicted of a variety of federal crimes.
The two men whose sentences were commuted will now be released early from federal prison while those who received full pardons had already completed their prison sentences and will now have their rights fully restored.
Top political figures had advocated for the release of the two men who will now be released from prison on Trump’s orders: Ted Suhl, an Arkansas man who was convicted of bribery and fraud charges, and Ronen Nahmani, a Floridian who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for distributing synthetic marijuana.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Trump booster whose daughter served as White House press secretary, “strongly supported” Suhl’s request for clemency, the White House said in a press release, while Nahmani’s case was championed by a slew of members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.
The White House noted that Nahmani, who was convicted in 2015, “is a non-violent, first-time offender with no criminal history” with five children whose wife is “suffering from terminal cancer.”
“These extenuating circumstances underscore the urgency of his request for clemency,” the White House said.
Trump did not appear to have a direct connection to the five full pardons he issued, which included one man who was previously pardoned by President Barack Obama in 2017 over a drug trafficking charge, but whose “fraud conviction was not encompassed” in that pardon “due to a clerical error,” the White House said.
The five pardons related to crimes committed in the 1980s and 1990s and the White House release suggested they were the result of the traditional Justice Department pardon process, rather than high-profile lobbying efforts or connections to Trump political allies that have defined many of Trump’s previous grants of clemency. The White House did not return a request for comment asking what prompted these latest clemency actions.
Trump had previously pardoned or commuted the sentences of 14 people, including controversial Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, conservative columnist Dinesh D’Souza and Alice Marie Johnson, who was serving a life sentence in prison for a first-time, non-violent drug offense and whose case was brought to Trump’s attention by the celebrity Kim Kardashian West.
Trump has relished the unilateral authority of his presidential clemency powers, but a standardized system has yet to emerge at the White House for Trump to augment his use of those powers as he suggested he would.
Obama pardoned or commuted the sentences of 1,927 individuals, more than any president since Harry Truman, as part of a deliberate effort to provide relief to prisoners who were convicted of nonviolent drug crimes.
The individuals Trump pardoned on Monday had been convicted of a range of federal crimes: improper use of federal government property, drug trafficking, illegal gambling, fraud and theft.