And the Biggest Losers From Trump’s Pardon Sweepstakes Are…

These unlucky loyalists are now facing the consequences on their own, after Trump has left the building.
January 22, 2021, 5:06pm
(from left); Rudy Giuliani, Joe Exotic, Jake Angeli
(Left to right) Former Mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani speaks during a news conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters, Thursday Nov. 19, 2020, in Washington (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin);

undated file photo provided by the Santa Rose County Jail in Milton, Fla., shows Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as Joe Exotic; photo by zz/STRF/STAR MAX/IPx 2021 1/7/21 Jake Angeli, a self-proclaimed "QAnon Shaman", was arrested for partaking in the siege on the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

Donald Trump spent his last night in the White House handing out presidential pardons like party favors. But plenty of his most legally-troubled fans didn’t get one, and they’re now facing the consequences of rolling with the smash-and-grab vibe of the Trump era after their guy has left the building.

Some are in prison, some face investigations, and some are grappling with serious criminal charges for actions they say were directed, or inspired, by the ex-president. A few who begged Trump for a pardon are publicly blasting him for letting them down, after Trump issued clemency to 143 people for a vast smorgasbord of corrupt behavior, including his own former aides and politically-connected former Congressmen.

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“Boy, were we all stupid to believe he actually stood for Equal Justice,” lamented Joe Exotic, the star of Netflix’s hit “Tiger King” true crime documentary, who’d begged Trump to release him from a 22-year prison sentence for attempted murder-for-hire. “His corrupt friends all come first.”

Here are some of those who are now facing legal trouble since they didn’t score a reprieve.

The QAnon Shaman


The standout Capitol Hill rioter, whose real name is Jacob Chansley, reached out to Trump for a pardon through his lawyer last week. 

The 33-year-old who made front pages everywhere in his fur hat, buffalo horns and spear was acting on Trump’s “invitation” when he entered the Capitol building on January 6, Chansley’s lawyer, Al Watkins said.

Now, Chansley thinks Trump “duped” him. 

"He regrets very, very much having not just been duped by the president, but by being in a position where he allowed that duping to put him in a position to make decisions he should not have made," Watkins told local station KSDK.

“Let's roll the tape. Let's roll the months of lies, and misrepresentations and horrific innuendo and hyperbolic speech by our president designed to inflame, enrage, motivate,” said Watkins. “What's really curious is the reality that our president, as a matter of public record, invited these individuals, as president, to walk down to the Capitol with him.”

"He regrets very, very much having not just been duped by the president, but by being in a position where he allowed that duping to put him in a position to make decisions he should not have made," Watkins told local station KSDK.

“Let's roll the tape. Let's roll the months of lies, and misrepresentations and horrific innuendo and hyperbolic speech by our president designed to inflame, enrage, motivate,” said Watkins. “What's really curious is the reality that our president, as a matter of public record, invited these individuals, as president, to walk down to the Capitol with him.”

Rudy Giuliani

Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani blew up his reputation for Trump. 

He was once known as “America’s Mayor” for his steadfast response to the 9/11 attacks 19 years ago. Now he’s now known for his outlandish appearances on cable news

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But despite racing around the country trying to help Trump turn his 2020 election defeat into a victory, Giuliani won no reprieve from Trump from the criminal investigation that has dogged the former New York mayor for months.

The scope of that probe is unclear. But as recently as December, prosecutors from the Southern District of New York were reportedly weighing a subpoena for his emails. 

Trump’s decision not to pardon Giuliani looks like retribution for Giuliani’s bungling inability to secure Trump a second term, Michael Cohen, Trump’s estranged former private attorney, told VICE News. Trump’s legal team lost over 60 court decisions while pursuing phony claims of voter fraud. 

“He didn’t pardon Rudy as a punishment for his massive legal failure in overturning the election,” Cohen said.

Giuliani denied wanting or needing a pardon.

Joe Exotic

The star of Netflix’s “Tiger King” documentary about true crime and big cats sent Trump a fawning personal letter in late 2020 as part of a wide-ranging, unorthodox attempt to score release from prison. 

Lawyers for Exotic were so optimistic about a Trump pardon that they put a 38-foot long “Monster Ram Truck Limo” on standby to pick him up. 

But in vain. 

The TV star reacted with fury after Trump left office, accusing Trump of refusing to pardon him because he’s “too gay.” The flamboyant TV star’s 257-page pardon application describes him as a “gay, gun-toting, redneck in Oklahoma.” 

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READ: Joe Exotic Says He Was ‘Too Gay’ to Get a Pardon From Trump

Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, was convicted last year on 17 federal charges of animal abuse and two counts of murder-for-hire over an alleged plot to kill the owner of a rival tiger zoo named Carole Baskin, who featured prominently in the Netflix series.


Texas AG Ken Paxton

Texas’ Attorney General is facing an FBI investigation for alleged corruption. The bureau is reportedly examining whether Paxton abused the powers of his office for the benefit of a wealthy donor

And plenty of observers speculated that scoring a preemptive pardon from Trump may have helped motivate Paxton to lead a bonkers late-game legal push to overturn President Joe Biden’s election victory.

That legal gambit was slapped down hard by the Supreme Court. 

Lev Parnas & Igor Fruman

The pair of Soviet-born businessmen helped Giuliani dig up dirt on Biden in Ukraine, only to be charged with allegedly channeling campaign donations to prominent Republicans from a Russian investor who was trying to score legal marijuana licenses, among other claims. 

Parnas flipped hard on Trump in public—releasing dozens of selfies, dishing his story about what the pair were up to on Trump’s behalf and attempting to score an invitation to testify before Congress. 


READ: Lev Parnas Has a Wild Plan to Burn Trump With a Million Selfies

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Such efforts might have helped him receive leniency in his own criminal case. Fruman, by contrast, has maintained a stony silence.

No matter—neither received a pardon from Trump. 


Such efforts might have helped him receive leniency in his own criminal case. Fruman, by contrast, has maintained a stony silence.

No matter—neither received a pardon from Trump. 

They’ve both pleaded not guilty.

Jenna Ryan

The Texas realtor famously gave her business a shoutout just as she was allegedly breaching the doors of the Capitol Building on January 6.

Jenna Ryan, who flew to Trump’s “Save America” rally in D.C. on a private jet, turned to her livestream audience on Facebook and said: “Y’all know who to hire for your realtor. Jenna Ryan for your realtor.” 

She asked Trump for a pardon, saying she just felt like she was doing what Trump asked her to do.

“I think we all deserve a pardon,” Ryan told CBS. “I’m facing a prison sentence. I think I do not deserve that, and from what I understand, every person is going to be arrested that was there, so I think everyone deserves a pardon, so I would ask the president of the United States to give me a pardon.”

She asked Trump for a pardon, saying she just felt like she was doing what Trump asked her to do.

“I think we all deserve a pardon,” Ryan told CBS. “I’m facing a prison sentence. I think I do not deserve that, and from what I understand, every person is going to be arrested that was there, so I think everyone deserves a pardon, so I would ask the president of the United States to give me a pardon.”

She didn’t get one—and neither did anyone else accused of storming the Capitol. 

Ryan was charged with knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building without authority and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

Trump himself 

Trump didn’t issue himself a pardon either. That surprised a lot of people who have followed the saga of his spiraling potential criminal peril closely.

But there are reasons to think a self-pardon might have blown up in his face. 

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READ: Trump Didn’t Pardon Himself. Now His Legal Nightmare Begins.

First of all—it might not have been legally sound, anyway. Plenty of legal experts argue that the Supreme Court would probably strike down such a move. 

Trump was reportedly warned that pardoning himself would make him look guilty, hurt his odds in the looming Senate impeachment trial, and simply encourage prosecutors to go after him in an attempt to get the courts to declare the move unconstitutional. 


And it wouldn’t have helped Trump where he needs it most.

Trump is also being looked at by local prosecutors, especially Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, who have the power to charge Trump with state crimes that would be impervious to presidential pardons anyway.


And it wouldn’t have helped Trump where he needs it most.

Trump is also being looked at by local prosecutors, especially Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, who have the power to charge Trump with state crimes that would be impervious to presidential pardons anyway.