At the time of writing, he has issued a mere 28 pardons and 16 commutations, although all that could change soon.
One explanation, and a difference between Mr Trump and his predecessors, is that a high proportion of his acts of clemency have directly involved his own allies and staff. The latest of these included commutation for his friend unconstitutional. But he is widely reported to be eyeing Cymbeline in the final scene of Shakespeare’s late play. The former archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has described Cymbeline’s line as a moral clarion call. The ability to pardon a person helps to elevate human beings, the archbishop argued. The human capacity for compassion and reconciliation is, he has said, evidence of the hand of the divine.
There is, though, nothing remotely divine or compassionate about Mr Trump. The legal power he wields should be used very sparingly, and only in line with a proper and transparent process. Mr Trump has no interest in such things. He may not be able to put himself beyond the law, but he can do massive damage along the way. That would indeed be unpardonable.