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Explaining presidential pardons and how Trump wielded this power

In the final hours of his presidency, Donald

In the final hours of his presidency, Donald Trump granted his last pardons. Newsday's Steve Langford spoke to Long Islanders to get their reactions.  Credit: Newsday / Raychel Brightman; Photo Credit: Newsday Staff, AP, John J. Kim/ Getty Images North America

As the final hours of Donald Trump's presidency played out, attention grew on his ability to grant pardons or commutations to those convicted and serving prison sentences. There was even discussion of whether he would preemptively grant pardons — to members of his family or even himself — as he issued his final acts of presidential clemency.

In the end, Trump pardoned former chief strategist Steve Bannon as part of a flurry of clemency action that benefited more than 140 people, including rap performers, ex-members of Congress and other allies of him and his family.

Meanwhile, a lucrative market emerged, according to reporting by the The New York Times, as some of the president's allies collected fees from wealthy felons or their associates in exchange for lobbying the White House for clemency.

But what allows presidents to grant pardons? And are there limits to this power? Here's everything you need to know about presidential clemency, including how Trump wielded this power compared to his predecessors.

What is a presidential pardon?

How does a pardon differ from a commutation?

Can the president pardon any criminal conviction?

How does this process usually play out?

Does the president have to follow the usual steps?

Can the president pardon people before they are indicted, convicted or sentenced for a federal offense?

How many pardons and commutations have prior presidents issued?

How many did Trump grant during his presidency?

How did Trump break from tradition?

Could Trump have pardoned himself?

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