Trump spends MLK Day finalizing long list of pardons

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Trump has never volunteered on the day of service honoring the late civil rights leader.

Donald Trump is not spending his final Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the White House observing the day of service by volunteering to help the community, something he has never done anyway.

According to media reports, Trump is instead finalizing the list of pardons he plans to dole out to his political allies.

The holiday in honor of King, signed into law in 1983 by Ronald Reagan, was designated a day of service in 1994, when Bill Clinton signed the King Holiday and Service Act. The Americorps website calls the day "the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities."

In 2017, Trump spent the weekend leading up to the holiday trashing Rep. John Lewis, the civil rights giant who worked with King, tweeting, "Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk - no action or results. Sad."

In 2018, Trump issued a statement about the importance of service, but spent the day golfing at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach.

In 2019 and 2020, Trump visited the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C., but did not volunteer in the community.

According to the White House, this Martin Luther King Jr. Day "President Trump will work from early in the morning until late in the evening. He will make many calls and have many meetings." That's the same description of Trump's schedule the White House has been using for weeks, not saying what specifically Trump is doing or who he is meeting with.

Trump is reported to be finalizing a list of 100 pardons and grants of clemency he plans to issue before he leaves the White House. He has already pardoned former aides who remained loyal to him as they were caught in special counsel Robert Mueller's probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Politico reported in December, after such figures as Roger Stone and Paul Manafort were pardoned and received clemency, that Andrew Weissman, a prosecutor who had worked on the Russia investigation, said, "This is what you get if you give the pardon power to a mob boss. … The president faces criminal exposure for obstruction of the Mueller investigation, and what we're seeing is the last few days is basically a confession.

"Everything that he is doing now can be just additional evidence of that obstruction. He may get hoisted on his own petard," Weissman told MSNBC.

Now Trump is reportedly weighing whether to pardon other former aides, including Steve Bannon, who was indicted in connection with an alleged scheme to defraud donors to a private fund Bannon said was being used to build Trump's long-promised border wall between the United States and Mexico.

Meanwhile, the incoming president and vice president are planning a full day of service to honor King's legacy.

President-elect Joe Biden is volunteering at a food bank in Philadelphia. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is volunteering in Washington, D.C. Their official inauguration website includes a page dedicated to the day of service.

On Monday evening, the inaugural committee is holding a "United We Serve" event that will "feature a diverse array of entertainers, inspiring speakers, and stories celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Biden-Harris Administration's commitment to service."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.