When Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner took jobs in their father/father-in-law’s administration, they reportedly struck an unintentionally hilarious agreement between themselves that if the opportunity arose in the future, they wouldn‘t argue over which one of them would run for president—she’d be the one to do it. That they weren‘t remotely qualified to even work in the White House, let alone run the country, was clearly a thought that never entered either of their heads, despite all the vast open space in there; instead, they were apparently already considering campaign slogans and potential running mates and the extremely important question of whether or not Ivanka would enter the Capitol for her inauguration perched on a daybed carried by a quartet of shirtless men, Cleopatra-style.
Fast-forward four years and the idea of Ivanka holding any higher office whatsoever seems even more ridiculous than it did in 2016, in light of the whole violent insurrection she basically encouraged. And yet! The former first daughter apparently still believes she has a bright political future, and that people would agree if only they knew about all of the good work she allegedly did securing pardons for the poor and downtrodden from her father. For instance, over at Axios, sources familiar with the matter would like it to be known that during Trump’s final days in office, Ivanka “attended multiple Oval Office meetings and made calls from empty offices in the West Wing” about potential pardons and commutations, news of which she likely believes will be key to her “political reemergence.” Not only that but the night before Joe Biden’s inauguration, she stayed at the White House until roughly 8:30 p.m.—which is almost 9, which is practically 10, which is basically an all-nighter—“wrangl[ing] over controversial eleventh-hour pardons.” And then, after having burned the midnight oil, she spent the drive over to Joint Base Andrews the next day, where Trump gave his farewell speech, calling families of those she’d advocated for. Who were the lucky individuals that Ivanka worked so tirelessly to obtain justice? In addition to a couple people who had been imprisoned for nonviolent drug offenses, she apparently went to bat for, among others: a woman convicted of “money laundering, bank and wire fraud and other financial crimes” and a guy convicted of stealing $43 million from victims of a telemarketing scam. And that‘s not all!
According to a new report from The Washington Post, another representative recipient of clemency was Paul Erickson, a Republican operative who pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering after scamming dozens of people out of $5.3 million, and who a judge told during his sentencing last summer: “What comes through is that you’re a thief, and you’ve betrayed your friends, your family, pretty much everyone you know.” Erickson received just one of the 144 clemency grants Trump issued during his final hours in office, thanks, per the Post, to “a process marked by unprecedented favoritism and a rush by well-paid lobbyists.” The Post also notes that while White House counsel Pat Cipollone “officially ran [that] process…Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner served as key gatekeepers.” In other words, Princess Purses and her husband played a major role deciding who did and did not receive pardons or commutations, which led to the “sidelin[ing] of low-level offenders who had waited years after filing petitions through the Justice Department and elevated those with personal connections to the White House—or the money to pay someone with those connections.”
In its statement granting clemency to Erickson, the White House wrote that he was “charged with a minor financial crime,” which came as news to his victims. “Minor to who?” Susan Holden, a college classmate of Erickson’s who he duped, asked the Post. Referring to his pardon, Lisa Coll Nicolaou, a New Jersey teacher and one of Erickson’s victims, said: “I was completely blindsided.” (Erickson had convinced Coll Nicolaou to invest in a fraudulent medical-device company after connecting with her at their 25th college reunion.) Other people on the receiving end of a Trump pardon or commutation included Philip Esformes, an ex-nursing home executive convicted of one of the biggest Medicare frauds in U.S. history, and Judith Negron, who’d been convicted in a separate scam to steal millions from Medicare and who not only had her sentence cut short but told she didn’t need to pay back her share of $87 million in court-ordered restitution.
Meanwhile, Luke Scarmazzo, who was seeking commutation for a 22-year sentence for selling marijuana was one of a number of people left off of Trump’s list after having been told he would be freed. “It’s like a sick joke, because we were so excited,” said Scarmazzo’s brother, Nick. Texas-based Trump donor Doug Deason, who had urged the commutations of hundreds of long sentences for nonviolent drug offenses told the Post that in the wake of the Capitol attack, the White House appeared “distracted,” and ultimately, “everyone was disappointed” when the majority of the final pardons went to wealthy and connected white-collar criminals while leaving low-level offenders off the list. “I don’t know what happened to many of the names,” he said.
Anyway, Ivanka thinks all of this reflects extremely well on her and hopes she can count on your vote!
More Great Stories From Vanity Fair
— Embedding With Pentagon Leadership in Trump’s Final, Frenzied Days
— Donald Trump Refused to Take ‘No’ From Women—And Then From America Itself
— How Trump’s COVID Chaos Drowned the FDA in Junk Science
— Inside the Epic Bromance of Jeffrey Epstein and Donald Trump
— After Wrecking the Country, Jared and Ivanka Plot Vacation Plans
— Can Trump’s Cult of Followers Be Deprogrammed?
— Trump Makes an Exit With His Brand in Tatters
— From the Archive: How Donald Trump Turned Palm Beach Against Him
— Not a subscriber? Join Vanity Fair to receive full access to VF.com and the complete online archive now.