In April 2022, Jonathan Braun, left, and his wife, Miriam, visited a Trump resort in Florida. Mr. Braun said they ran into the former president by coincidence. Credit: The New York Times

Even amid the uproar over President Donald J. Trump’s freewheeling use of his pardon powers at the end of his term, one commutation stood out.

Jonathan Braun of New York had served just two and a half years of a decade-long sentence for running a massive marijuana ring, when Mr. Trump, at 12:51 a.m. on his last day in office, announced he would be freed.

Mr. Braun was, to say the least, an unusual candidate for clemency.

A Staten Islander with a history of violent threats, Mr. Braun had told a rabbi who owed him money: “I am going to make you bleed.” Mr. Braun’s family had told confidants they were willing to spend millions of dollars to get him out of prison.

At the time, Mr. Trump’s own Justice Department and federal regulators, as well as New York state authorities, were still after him for his role in an entirely separate matter: his work as a […]

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