Pardons, Travel Ban, Award Ceremony: Donald Trump Spends His Last Day at White House
U.S. President Donald Trump REUTERS/Tom Brenner
The last day of Donald Trump as President of the United States had one tangible issue he has been focused on and that is how to apply his power to pardon before his term ends before snubbing his successor Joe Biden's inauguration and leaving for Florida.
On Wednesday noon, Biden will be sworn in and the Trump presidency will end.
Banned by Twitter for his stream of inflammatory messages and misinformation, Trump has largely stopped communicating with the nation. He has also yet to congratulate Biden or invite him for the traditional pre-inauguration cup of tea in the Oval Office.
Instead, Trump has spent his time meeting with a dwindling circle of loyalists who backed him during a doomed, two-month effort to overturn the results of the November election. Trump issued a scattering of last-minute orders on Monday, most notably lifting off the travel bans imposed due to spike in coronavirus cases in Europe and Brazil.
Trump has a list of about 100 people he will be granting clemency, according to CNN and other US news outlets. After what The New York Times reports has been an intense lobbying effort, the list are expected to be a mix of white-collar criminals and people whose cases have been championed by criminal justice activists.
More controversial possible pardons that have been the subject of speculation for months would be for Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and Trump's influential advisor Stephen Bannon. Meanwhile, Trump awarded the king of Bahrain with the legion of merit award on his last full day in office.
The US embassy in Bahrain confirmed King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa received the award for his "visionary leadership" in the region. "His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa on receiving the Legion of Merit for his visionary leadership in the pursuit of peace and strengthening relations between our two countries and across the region," the US embassy said in a tweet.
The legion of merit is a military award created to honour allied leaders in the Second World War. It had gone into obscurity until it was revived by Trump, who last month also presented it to the prime ministers of Australia, India and Japan. On Saturday, the island nation was also named a "major security partner" by the Trump administration, only a few days before US President-elect Joe Biden is due to be sworn in on Wednesday.
A White House statement said that the designation was in recognition of Manama and Abu Dhabi's "extraordinary courage, determination and leadership". It remains unclear what this new designation means for Manama, which has hosted the US Navy's fifth fleet since 1995.
In September, Bahrain normalised diplomatic and trade relations with Israel as part of an initiative championed by Trump's son-in-law and special adviser Jared Kushner.
Trump is not the only western leader to spark controversy by granting a prestigious award to an Arab leader accused of large-scale human rights violations. In December, French President Emmanuel Macron awarded a diplomatic legion of honour award to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, sparking uproar online.