Political commentator John Cardillo believes that Donald Trump's potential pardons for Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, and Ross Ulbricht were "held hostage" by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
"McConnell and Schumer are holding that hostage with the threat of a Senate conviction. Trump should tell them to go f*ck themselves, take that symbolic hit, and do what's right. Leave a winner," he tweeted.
Cardillo's theory echoes that of fellow commentator Mike Cernovich, who pointed to McConnell's speech on the upper chamber floor on Wednesday and suggested it was a threat aimed at the former president to prevent him from pardoning Assange and Snowden.
As reported by Mediaite, Fox News host Tucker Carlson also claimed that McConnell was interfering with Trump's potential pardons. Carlson claimed that McConnell "sent word" to the White House that if the president pardoned Assange, the upper chamber would be more likely to convict him in the forthcoming impeachment trial.
Carlson also warned Trump against degrading himself with his use of pardons on the way out of the White House, the Daily Mail reported.
"'Don't degrade yourself on the way out. Don't degrade your voters. Make a statement in our defense. Defend the Bill of Rights."
Trump ultimately declined to pardon any of the trio, which received backlash from across the political spectrum. In addition, One America News Network anchor Jack Posobiec cited on Twitter a senior Republican National Committee liaison who allegedly revealed that McConnell stayed up and waited for Trump's pardon list, which was released in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Many took to social media to express their outrage over the ex-U.S. leader's decision to forgo pardoning Assange, including the WikiLeaks founder's mother, Christine Assange.
"Im not shocked.. Just disappointed that my private prediction was right Courage is not always contagious," she tweeted.
Actor Randy Quaid noted in a tweet that Trump previously claimed he "loved" WikiLeaks and pushed him to pardon the journalist.
"If you're being influenced by Mitch McConnell he's not your friend. Democracy needs transparency to survive."Trump offered 73 pardons and 70 commutations in the last hours of his presidency, CNN reported. Among the people he pardoned were former White House strategist Steve Bannon, rapper Lil Wayne, and one of his former campaign's fundraisers, Elliott Broidy.
According to Finnish-German entrepreneur and Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom, Trump offered him a pardon due to his case's purported link to Joe Biden. Dotcom said he declined and said he would only accept clemency if Assange and Snowden were offered the same.