President Donald Trump has granted clemency to five federal inmates, putting the total for his first term at 16 commutations and 27 pardons.
On Wednesday the White House announced that Trump had commuted the sentences of five prisoners who have already served years in federal prison for drug or fraud crimes. Lenora Logan served 27 years for a cocaine conspiracy conviction; Rashella Reed served 14 years for wire fraud and money laundering for her role in a massive million-dollar food stamp laundering scheme; Charles Tanner has served 16 years in prison out of what was initially a life sentence for a drug conspiracy conviction; John Bolen has served 13 years in prison for using his boat to transport cocaine from the Bahamas to Florida.
The fifth recipient, 70-year-old Curtis McDonald, has served nearly 24 years in prison for drug trafficking and money laundering. McDonald was part of the same Memphis drug ring Alice Marie Johnson participated in, and the two of them were sentenced to life in prison.
Johnson is the most famous of Trump’s non-political clemency recipients, largely because her release was proposed to Trump by Kim Kardashian West. Trump commuted her sentence in 2018. Johnson has been a vocal supporter of Trump ever since and even appeared at the Republican National Convention (after which, Trump fully pardoned her).
According to the Associated Press, Johnson pushed these five commutations in visits to the White House and said she was thankful the administration agreed.
These five new commutations further push Trump ahead of President Barack Obama at this point in Obama’s term. Obama at this point had pardoned 16 people and commuted only one sentence. Obama ultimately would commute more than 1,700 sentences toward the end of his second term.
Trump has been attempting to hit Democratic nominee Joe Biden for his support and role in the passage of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which has been criticized for exacerbating the trend toward disproportionately long mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes. Biden’s criminal justice platform now rejects the policies he used to support. Don’t be surprised if the commutations announced Wednesday become a point of discussion in tonight’s debates.