The closing days of Donald Trump's administration saw lobbyists and lawyers with significant swamp connections peddle efforts to secure criminal pardons and commutations that only a president can grant. Now, with dozens of white-collar offenders off the hook, the details have begun to percolate.
Big-time investor Robert Zangrillo, charged with fraud in a college admissions scandal, joined the lucky club of clemency recipients. How he did so is a murky mystery, according to The New York Times. The White House listed as Zangrillo supporters billionaire Trump friend Tom Barrack and Napster co-founder Sean Parker — yet both deny involvement. The facts may warrant investigation by Congress.
Even after his departure from office, other scandal-laced dramas surrounding Trump are starting to brew.
For one, the lethal Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol has prompted Trump's second impeachment. On Thursday, a 22-year-old Pennsylvania woman charged with helping steal a laptop from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office during the riot was ordered released from jail on house arrest.
Earlier, a tipster had said the woman, Riley June Williams, expressed interest in trying to sell the computer to Russian intelligence. Her lawyer is disputing the charges, but said in court that Williams "took the president’s bait" to besiege the Capitol that day. Others arrested also said they did so at Trump's incitement.
Pelosi on Thursday said she wouldn't drop the impeachment article, but also declined to say when she would send it to the Senate for trial. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) seeks to postpone the trial until next month, which could keep Trump's recent antics on the political radar even longer.
Without the powerful shield of the presidency, Trump may have to answer to different local and state criminal charges.
The district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia, has expressed interest in Trump's phone call to state election officials suggested they change ballot results in his favor. The District of Columbia's attorney general cited the possibility Trump could be charged with a misdemeanor for encouraging violence. Probes in New York involving Trump's business practices and taxes continue as expected.
On his way out the door, Trump also ordered up six months of 24-hour Secret Service coverage for his four adult children, former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and former national security adviser Robert C. O’Brien.
Trump's undermining of strategies to fight the coronavirus pandemic is getting more attention following his ouster by the voters. The nation's top infectious diseases expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, on Thursday, his first full day under President Joe Biden, described being able to "let the science speak" as "somewhat of a liberating feeling."
Right-wing fringe elements, however, might see scandal in the fact that their hero Trump surrendered to reality and left office. Posting in a private channel of the messaging app Telegram, a group identifying itself as the Proud Boys said: "Trump will go down as a total failure."
After this week, when a constitutional transition occurred, believers in the far-fetched QAnon myth also stood to come out disillusioned. They'd been told Trump would stay to arrest and punish "deep-state" evildoers in the government. Yet in a campaign appearance last October, Trump said he had no knowledge of this "theory," refused to say it was false and praised the group's alleged fight against child trafficking. He's finished with the White House, but his deceits continue to unfold.