Trump’s pardons may be poorly worded enough to leave some people on the hook

Trump turkey pardon 2019
President Donald Trump gives a presidential ‘pardon’ to the National Thanksgiving Turkey Butter in the Rose Garden of the White House November 26, 2019 in Washington, DC. While Butter may be safe, Paul Manafort still faces risks, experts say.

  • President Trump’s pardons leave some of their subjects open to additional prosecution, experts say.
  • His former campaign chair Paul Manafort could still be prosecuted for specific crimes he wasn’t pardoned for.
  • Even Michael Flynn, who received a wider-ranging pardon, could still have it tested by courts.
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On his way out of office, President Donald Trump issued more than 100 pardons, mostly to his personal friends and political allies.

A number of those pardons were for people convicted of federal crimes linked to the Mueller investigation – including his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and advisors Roger Stone and George Papadopoulos.

Trump was sure to malign Mueller’s investigation in his pardon notices. The press release for Manafort’s pardon, for example, said he was “prosecuted in the course of Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation, which was premised on the Russian collusion hoax.”

Though the president’s pardon powers are broad, a number of prosecutors and experts on clemency laws don’t believe those people are off the hook just yet.

Trump pardoned Manafort for his specific convictions. It’s much more narrowly tailored than the pardon Trump gave to Flynn, for “any and all offenses arising out of the facts and circumstances” brought by Robert Mueller’s office.

It’s also narrower than the pardon President Gerald Ford gave to former President Richard Nixon, which covered a broad timeframe.

“It says ‘for his conviction’ and that’s it. It’s just for the crimes for which he was convicted,” Kimberly Wehle, a University of Baltimore law professor, told Insider. “That is a different wording than Richard Nixon received under his pardon, which is for ‘all conceivable crimes.'”

Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign manager, in 2019. Trump pardoned him in 2020.

Wehle, who worked under Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr in the Justice Department, said presidents must specify the specific crimes being pardoned.

Beyond that, prosecutors can always try to bring different charges using the same set of underlying facts, she said.

The same point was brought up by Andrew Weissman, Mueller’s second-in-command, in an article for the blog Just Security on Wednesday. Weissman argued that while Flynn’s pardon left “no room for now holding Flynn to account for his past felonious conduct,” the pardon for Manafort was full of holes.

“Specifically, the pardon is solely for the crimes of conviction … That leaves numerous crimes as to which Manafort can still be prosecuted, as in Virginia there were 10 hung counts,” Weissman wrote. “In Washington, the situation is even more wide open. In that district, Manafort pleaded to a superseding information containing two conspiracy charges, while the entire underlying indictment – containing numerous crimes from money laundering, to witness tampering, to violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act – now remains open to prosecution as there was no conviction for those charges.”

Read more: Could Trump mass-pardon his supporters who rioted at the Capitol? Constitutional-law experts weigh in.

There are other obstacles, too.

Prosecutors need to make sure they don’t run afoul of the statue of limitations – though Manafort waived some of those protections, Weissman said. And a judge might decide that prosecutors are simply repackaging the same actions for which a person was pardoned into different crimes, which may run afoul of the Constitution’s double jeopardy protection.

But Wehle said there’s plenty of case law for judges to review. While federal prosecutors have rarely tried to go around presidential pardons, state-level prosecutors have often brought new criminal charges following governors’ state-level pardons and succeeded.

“Say there was a robbery and a murder, and you’re indicted and prosecuted for the robbery, and then later they come back and indict you and prosecute you for the murder,” Wehle said. “I don’t think there’s this a problem with fairness in there.”

Experts think Flynn may not be safe either

Some pardon attorneys even believe that federal prosecutors may still be able to bring new charges against Flynn.

Margaret Love, a clemency attorney and US Department of Justice pardon attorney between 1990 and 1997, believes the pardon for Flynn may have asserted powers that Trump didn’t actually have.

Love told Insider that while Trump could grant Flynn clemency for the crimes he was prosecuted for, a judge might decide that the “any and all offenses arising out of the facts and circumstances” part of it might not hold water.

“The president can assert whatever power he has, but at issue is whether he has the power,” Love said, adding: “I believe there is a strong argument that the constitutional pardon power requires a degree of specificity as to what crime it is pardoning.”

sidney powell michael flynn
Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, leaves the federal court with his lawyer Sidney Powell, in September 2019.

Even the broad pardon Ford gave to Nixon, Love said, has never been tested. The Justice Department never brought the issue before a court to decide whether the sweeping nature of the pardon was valid.

The question of whether Flynn’s pardon would prevent future prosecutions now depends on the appetite of Justice Department prosecutors, and it’s an open question whether Biden’s selection for attorney general, Merrick Garland, would choose to bring another case against him.

“Whoever is the prosecutor in the Flynn case will undoubtedly be looking closely at [the pardon] wording, just like Andrew Weissman was looking closely at [the] Manafort pardon,” Love said. “Then they will decide what to do.”

Attorneys for Manafort and Flynn didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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A Texas doctor has been charged with stealing 9 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine ‘for friends and family’

Glasgow Vaccine
The COVID-19 vaccine.

  • A Texas doctor was fired and charged after being accused of stealing a vile of the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • The District Attorney said the vile contained nine doses of the vaccine.
  • Gokal’s attorney told CNN that the vile was due to expire and would have gone to waste.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A Texas doctor faces charges alleging that he stole nine doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from his place of work.

Dr. Hasan Gokal stole the single vile on December 29 while working at the county vaccination site in Humble, Texas, according to the Harris County prosecutor’s office.

Hasan was fired, and then charged criminally, after he told a fellow public health employee who reported it to his supervisors, according to the prosecutor’s office.

“He abused his position to place his friends and family in line in front of people who had gone through the lawful process to be there,” District Attorney Kim Ogg said in a statement. “What he did was illegal and he’ll be held accountable under the law.”

The local department of health said, though the prosecutor’s office, that mishandling the vaccine could result in a loss of government funding to the county.

Read More: What to expect after a COVID-19 vaccine, from how long side effects last to when protection kicks in

“Gokal disregarded county protocols in place to ensure vaccine is not wasted but administered to vulnerable populations and front-line workers on a waiting list,” the statement from the office said.

Gokal’s attorney Paul Doyle told CNN that his client only took doses that were due to expire and would have wrongly gone unused.

Doyle told CNN his client was “a dedicated public servant who ensured that COVID-19 vaccine dosages that would have otherwise expired went into the arms of people who met the criteria for receiving it.”

“Harris County would have preferred Dr. Gokal let the vaccines go to waste and are attempting to disparage this man’s reputation in the process to support this policy,” the statement from Doyle went on.

If convicted of the alleged theft, a misdemeanor, Gokal faces up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine.

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How a participant in the Capitol riot allegedly stole Nancy Pelosi’s laptop

Riley June Williams ITV News skitched
The FBI used footage from ITV News, seen here, to track how Riley June Williams traveled through the Capitol to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office.

  • According to the DOJ, Riley Williams took a laptop from Nancy Pelosi’s office during the Capitol riot.
  • Williams’ former romantic partner told the FBI she had plans to sell it to Russia’s equivalent of the CIA.
  • Her mother says she’s been involved in far-right circles.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Department of Justice has publicly charged around 100 people with crimes related to the Capitol riot earlier this year, with more certain to come.

The insurrectionists, seeking to stop Congress’s vote count confirming President-elect Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 election, stormed in, broke windows, and trashed Congressional offices.

And one of them stole a laptop belonging to the most powerful woman in the history of the United States.

In court papers filed Sunday, federal prosecutors say Riley June Williams, a 22-year-old Pennsylvania resident, appeared to take a laptop belonging to Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. One of her former romantic partners told the FBI she had plans to sell it to Russia’s foreign intelligence service.

In footage captured by ITV News, Williams appeared to be one of the rioters guiding others further into the Capitol building and toward Pelosi’s chambers, raising questions about how much planning she put into the events of January 6.

After initially fleeing, Williams was arrested Monday morning. It’s still not clear what she’s done in the two weeks between the alleged laptop theft and her arrest.

Here’s what we know about Williams, how she got Pelosi’s laptop, and exactly how the Russians fit into all of this.

So, who is this woman?

Williams was singled out in a segment from ITV News, a British news organization, as someone who stood out during the Capitol insurrection. She wore a long brown coat and a bright green shirt “with an alt-right slogan.”

Unlike most of the insurrectionists milling about, Williams appeared to have a mission. She pushed other rioters in one direction, yelling “Upstairs, upstairs, upstairs!” according to the ITV footage.

department of justice riley williams
The FBI used footage from ITV News to identify Riley Williams in the Capitol Building. The footage shows her telling people to go upstairs, where Pelosi’s office is located.

ITV News later interviewed William’s mother in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, who said her daughter wasn’t home. She said Williams had become involved in “far-right message boards” and frequently attended “rallies” about “wanting America to get the correct information.” ITV also displayed a photo of her holding a military rifle while wearing a face mask bearing a skull illustration.

According to the FBI affidavit filed in court as part of the charges against Williams, her mother told Harrisburg police officers her daughter had left home and said she would “be gone for a couple of weeks” without saying where she would be going.

Jonathan Lund, the FBI agent who wrote the affidavit, said Williams had deleted her Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, Telegram, and Parler accounts following the insurrection.

How did she know how to get Pelosi’s laptop?

The degree to which Riley planned her incursion into the Capitol building remains unclear.

According to the FBI affidavit and ITV News video footage, Williams appears to have breached the Capitol building with a crowd and went to its southern wing, where the House of Representatives does its work.

She traveled through Statuary Hall to the Small House Rotunda (close to the Capitol Crypt) where she then brought a crowd up a flight of stairs and to Pelosi’s office, the ITV footage and FBI affidavit shows.

Other footage of Williams shows her carrying a zebra print bag with something inside that’s roughly the size of a laptop. You can see her at around the 10-second mark in the video below:

Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill, said the laptop was “used only for presentations.”

It’s not clear what files were on the laptop, whether it has network access that allows it to access other files in Pelosi’s office, and what steps have been taken to secure it. A representative for Pelosi didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

How did the FBI find her?

riley june williams capitol.JPG
Riley June Williams in a booking photograph obtained from the Dauphin County Prison in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, U.S. January 19, 2021.

Footage of Williams first circulated broadly in an ITV News segment that aired on January 12. According to the FBI affidavit, a “former romantic partner” of Williams made several phone calls to the FBI’s tip line for the Capitol riot after watching the segment and said their ex was there.

FBI agents then matched up the person in the footage with Williams’s Pennsylvania divers license photograph and confirmed they were the same person. Harrisburg police officers also confirmed with Williams’s mother that she was at the Capitol during the attack.

Are the Russians involved?

Williams’s ex who called the FBI also said Williams had a plan to send the laptop to a friend in Russia, who then planned to sell it to the SVR – the Russian equivalent of the CIA.

The ex also said the transfer “fell through for unknown reasons” and that Williams “still has the computer device or destroyed it,” according to the FBI affidavit.

Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

The affidavit says the matter remains under investigation.

Williams is set to appear at a hearing Tuesday afternoon in a court in Dauphin County, which includes Harrisburg. The county court clerk’s office told Insider the hearing would not be made available to the public.

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The man accused of breaking the window Ashli Babbitt tried to climb through when she was shot during the Capitol insurrection has been arrested

US Capitol riot
Riots at the US Capitol Building.

  • Chad Barrett Jones, 42, of Coxs Creek, Kentucky, was arrested in Louisville on Saturday, the FBI said in a news release.
  • Jones is accused of breaking a window of the Capitol building moments before Ashli Babbitt was fatally shot during the insurrection earlier this month. 
  • He’s facing multiple charges, including assault on a federal officer, destruction of government property, obstruction of justice, unlawful entry on restricted building or grounds, and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A Kentucky man who is accused of breaking a window of the Capitol building moments before Ashli Babbitt was fatally shot during the insurrection earlier this month has been arrested.

Chad Barrett Jones, 42, of Coxs Creek, Kentucky, was arrested in Louisville on Saturday and charged with assault on a federal officer, destruction of government property, obstruction of justice, unlawful entry on restricted building or grounds, and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, the FBI said in a news release.

According to an FBI charging affidavit, Jones broke a window near the House Speaker’s Lobby that Babbitt tried to climb through as she was fatally shot.

The affidavit cites video from the Washington Post, alleging that Jones can be seen striking a door to the lobby’s glass panels with what appeared to be a wooden flag pole.

The crowd around the man can be heard shouting “Break it down” and “let’s f—— go!” as he struck the glass, the FBI said.

Seconds after the glass panel was broken, Babbitt, 35, was shot by a police officer as she tried to climb through it to enter the lobby.

Babbitt and four others died in the Capitol riot, which was carried out by supporters of President Donald Trump who stormed the building as Congress debated Electoral College votes from the 2020 election won by President-elect Joe Biden.

FBI Special Agent Javier Gonzalez said in the affidavit that a witness identified Jones through a tip to the FBI National Threat Operation Center.

The witness said Jones was a relative who had told him he traveled to Washington DC and had used a flag pole holding a flag supporting Trump to break the Capitol window.

Another person, who identified himself as a friend of Jones, told the FBI that Jones had called him after seeing himself on the news, and called himself an idiot, according to the affidavit.

Jones is scheduled to appear in court on January 19.

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A Florida manatee was found with ‘Trump’ scraped into its back. Federal officials are investigating the incident as a possible crime.

  • A manatee was found in Florida on Sunday with “TRUMP” scraped into its back.
  • The Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating the incident as a possible crime in violation of the Endangered Species Act.
  • The perpetrator could face a $50,000 fine or a year in federal prison, according to an investigator.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A manatee with “TRUMP” scraped into its back was discovered in a Florida river on Sunday, prompting an investigation by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Authorities are seeking information on who might have harassed the West Indian manatee, also known as a Florida manatee. The species concentrates in the warmer waters of the Citrus County area during the winter months. 

“It’s been my experience that this is very out of character for this community,” Craig Cavanna, a senior federal wildlife officer and the investigating officer of this incident, told The Citrus Chronicle, which first reported on the investigation. “Wildlife conservation is a core value in Citrus County. That’s why it’s called the Nature Coast.”

President Donald Trump won just over 70% of the county’s vote in the 2020 Presidential Election, according to Politico.

Cavanna said he and other officials involved in the investigation were “following leads” and that harassment of a manatee is a criminal offense under the Endangered Species Act, punishable by a $50,000 fine, up to a year in federal prison, or both.

Both the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed to Business Insider that the incident was real and is being investigated by the USFWS.

“West Indian manatees are essential members of the ecosystems in which they inhabit and are protected under the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act,” Aurelia Skipwith, director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, said in a statement. She added that the agency is asking anyone with information about the case to call its wildlife crime tips hotline at 1-844-397-8477, or send an email to

A photo and video of the manatee was released to the Citrus Chronicle, and photo editor Matthew Beck said it came from the Fish and Wildlife Service. It shows the word Trump scraped across the manatee’s back in bold capital letters. However, Fish and Wildlife Service spokesperson Christina Meister told Business Insider that the agency “cannot share any associated images/video at this time.” 

Additionally, Meister said it didn’t appear the manatee was seriously injured, as the letters appeared to be scraped into the algae on the manatee’s back. 

West Indian manatees have been listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act since 2017. They were previously classified as endangered until the federal government announced the population had somewhat rebounded.

According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, manatees are specifically protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which prohibits the harassment, hunting, capturing or killing of marine mammals, particularly those listed under the Endangered Species Act. 

The discovery of the manatee came days after extremist Trump supporters infiltrated the US Capitol building, an event that killed at least five people

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The largest police union in the US, which endorsed Trump in September, called on the president to ‘forcefully’ put an end to his supporters’ Capitol siege

Fraternal Order of Police, Patrick Yoes, Trump
Patrick Yoes, President of the National Fraternal Order of Police, endorsed Donald Trump in September.

  • The largest police union in the US has called on Trump to “forcefully urge” extremists to leave the US Capitol.
  • The National Fraternal Order of Police endorsed Trump in the 2020 election.
  • “Lawlessness is not how Americans affect change in our great country,” union President Patrick Yoes wrote.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Patrick Yoes, president of the National Fraternal Order of Police, called on President Donald Trump to urge the pro-Trump extremists to leave the US Capitol building.

Yoes said in an emailed statement that the actions in Washington, DC, demonstrate how critical law enforcement are to public safety.

“Without the protection afforded to us by our men and women in blue, our society cannot function,” he wrote in the statement.

“We also call on President Trump to forcefully urge these demonstrators to stop their unlawful activity, to stand down, and to disperse,” he added. “The actions of some of these demonstrators are endangering our elected officials, Congressional staff, ordinary citizens, and the law enforcement officers on the scene.”

Shortly after 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, a group of pro-Trump rioters breached the Capitol building, forcing the evacuation of Vice President Mike Pence, members of Congress, their staff, and press.

The extremists stole and damaged government property, and members of law enforcement were injured.

It took four hours for law enforcement to secure the Capitol.

Yoes, who leads the largest police union in the nation, has been a staunch Trump supporter.

In September, the union endorsed Trump.

“President Trump has shown time after time that he supports our law enforcement officers and understands the issues our members face every day,” said Yoes said at the time. “The FOP is proud to endorse a candidate who calls for law and order across our nation.”

In his statement on Wednesday, Yoes called the scene at the Capitol building heartbreaking and commended the work of the US Capitol Police, DC Metro Police, US Park Police, and other responding agencies.

“Lawlessness is not how Americans affect change in our great country,” the statement said. 

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The DOJ charged a man with sending death threats to a Maryland congressman over fears of his vote being taken away

election protest stop the steal
Supporters of President Donald Trump protest on November 5 in front of the Pennsylvania Commonwealth capitol building.

  • A man in Maryland was arrested after federal authorities alleged he sent death threats to a member of the US House of Representatives from the state, according to the Department of Justice.
  • The DOJ alleged Sidhartha Kumar Mathur, 34, left threatening messages through the representative’s office phone and website on December 10.
  • According to court filings, Mathur admitted to sending the voicemail but denies any involvement with the threatening webmail from the same day.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A man in Maryland was charged in connection with death threats sent to a Maryland representative of the US House of Representatives out of fears of voter fraud, according to the Department of Justice.

Sidhartha Kumar Mathur, 34, was charged with one count of threatening the life of a member of Congress, who received a threatening voicemail at a district office as well as a threatening message through the representative’s website on December 10.

Following President Donald Trump’s loss to President-elect Joe Biden in the US presidential election in November, Trump and members of the Republican Party have spread baseless accusations of voter fraud and election rigging. The claims have inspired numerous “stop the steal” protests that have resulted in death threats to public officials and sometimes violence.

According to an affidavit filed by Special Agent Tucker Kleitsch of the US Capitol Police, the voicemail left at the representative’s office threatened the official, who has remained unnamed, and their family.

“I just want to say, I’m going to f—ing kill you,” the voicemail said, according to the affidavit. “If you even mess with my vote, I’m going to come and I’ll slit your throat and I’ll kill your family. Okay. You shut, you f——, don’t touch my vote. You represent me. I’ll kill you.”

Following the voicemail, federal authorities investigated the cell phone number used and traced it to a Verizon Wireless user with Mathur’s name. After filing an emergency disclosure request to Verizon Wireless, investigators found Mathur’s father as the holder of the account and listed Mathur as a possible account user. The DOJ also obtained Mathur’s cell phone location information from Verizon.

In a voluntary interview with Kleitsch and other members of law enforcement, Mathur acknowledged the phone number in question was his and admitted to leaving the threatening voicemail. The DOJ alleges Mathur told investigators that he may have taken his statements too far, but that he does “take the threat seriously that my vote is going to be taken away.”

The affidavit filed by Kleitsch also details a message sent through the representative’s congressional website with death threats similar to those mentioned in the voicemail.

“I will f—ing kill you and blow up your office if you try to take my vote away,” the voicemail said, according to the affidavit. “I know where you and your family lives. You will be ended. You’re a f—ing animal that needs to be tortured and skinned alive.”

Authorities worked with Leidos Digital Solutions, an information technology company that supports the Maryland representative, to receive Mathur’s IP address from the threatening webmail. Once in possession of the IP address, the DOJ worked again with Verizon and confirmed Mathur’s father as the account subscriber with the same billing address as the phone subscription.

Despite the IP address being linked to his residence and similar verbiage used in both of the threats, Mathur denied writing the threatening webmail and suggested that his internet network may be insecure.

According to a press release from the DOJ, members of law enforcement seized Mathur’s phone, computer, and other electronic media in a search warrant.

Following his initial appearance in court, Mathur was released under the supervision of US Pretrial Services on the condition that he does not contact the representative again, surrenders his passport, is barred from leaving the District of Maryland, and must undergo medical or psychiatric treatments.

If convicted, Mathur will face no more than 10 years in federal prison for making threats against a federal official. A second court date for Mathur has yet to be scheduled.

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A praying 82-year-old COVID-19 patient was beaten to death by another patient with an oxygen tank, police say

hospital coronavirus
The incident occurred in Antelope Valley Hospital (not pictured) in Lancaster, California, on December 17.

  • The police in California arrested a man accused of killing an 82-year-old patient being treated for COVID-19 in a hospital on December 17.
  • Jesse Martinez, 37, was arrested and charged with murder, hate-crime enhancement, and elder abuse, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said this week.
  • Detectives said Martinez became enraged when the man started to pray. They said Martinez, who shared the hospital room with the man, then attacked him with an oxygen tank.
  • The investigation is ongoing, the department said.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The police in California are investigating the death of a man in a hospital who they say was struck by another patient wielding an oxygen tank.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said this week Jesse Martinez, 37, struck an 82-year-old Hispanic man who was being treated for COVID-19 in the same room in the Antelope Valley Hospital in Lancaster on December 17.

Martinez was charged with murder, hate-crime enhancement, and elder abuse, the department said. He is expected to appear in court in Antelope Valley on Monday.

Detectives said that Martinez became enraged when the man started to pray, then attacked the man with an oxygen tank. The man was pronounced dead the next day.

The two men did not know each other, the department said.

Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris told the Los Angeles Times in a statement that he was “shocked and saddened” to hear of the man’s death.

The investigation is ongoing, the department said.

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