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All the people Trump has pardoned so far, and who he could choose next

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michael cohen paul manafort
President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen; and his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
Associated Press/Craig Ruttle; Associated Press/Alex Brandon; Business Insider

President Donald Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, was sentenced on December 12 to three years in prison for what a federal judge called a “smorgasbord of fraudulent conduct.”

Cohen pleaded guilty to a slew of crimes, including tax evasion, bank fraud, lying to Congress about his role in a plan to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, and lying to Congress about payments he made in 2016 to two women who allege they had affairs with the president.

Cohen’s guilty plea and sentencing once again raises questions over Trump’s clemency strategy for his former associates convicted of crimes. In Cohen’s case, a pardon or commutation appears highly unlikely, given the abrupt about-face his relationship with Trump has taken in the last year.

Trump even tweeted on December 3 that he believed Cohen deserved to do hard prison time.

“‘Michael Cohen asks judge for no Prison Time.’ You mean he can do all of the TERRIBLE, unrelated to Trump, things having to do with fraud, big loans, Taxis, etc., and not serve a long prison term?” he said. “He lied for his outcome and should, in my opinion, serve a full and complete sentence.”

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, leaves federal court after his sentencing in New York, Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018.
Associated Press/Craig Ruttle

But the possibility remains open for Paul Manafort, the former chairman of Trump’s presidential campaign who was convicted last August of tax fraud, bank fraud, and failing to report foreign bank accounts. He’s due to be sentenced in February 2019, and has also pleaded guilty to to two conspiracy charges.

Manafort faces at least 10 years in prison for his crimes, and Trump has publicly sympathized with him, fueling speculation that a pardon is possible.

“I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family. ‘Justice’ took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to ‘break’ – make up stories in order to get a ‘deal,'” Trump tweeted in August. “Such respect for a brave man!”

Read more: While Michael Cohen cooperates with Mueller probe, Paul Manafort appears to be betting on a presidential pardon

Pardons are a form of executive clemency granted to the president by the Constitution — and that power is sweeping.

Trump can decide carte blanche to legally forgive or free anyone, so long as the crimes were federal ones.

Pardons essentially forgive people who have been convicted of crimes, removing any remaining punishments and restoring their rights. Commutations, on the other hand, merely reduce a prisoner’s sentence.

If Trump pardoned Manafort, the move would fall in line with the president’s recent trend of granting clemency to political allies, as well as people who have been championed by conservative media, prominent Republicans, or celebrities.

Here’s who Trump has granted clemency to in the past.

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