Donald Trump, an unorthodox president in many respects, has continued one practice of recent predecessors: frustrating clemency advocates by issuing no pardons or commutations early in his term.
As more than 10,000 petitions await action, Trump has not yet used his constitutional power to free inmates or wipe clean criminal records, despite reportedly expressing recent interest in that power.
"He's kind of right in line with George W. Bush and Obama in doing nothing," said P.S. Ruckman, a political scientist and expert on the historical use of the constitutional clemency authority.
"Most presidents historically have pardoned early and often," he said. On average, presidents have waited 104 days, according to Ruckman's research, posted to his authoritative Pardon Power blog.
Recent presidents have waited longer. And with only 202 days since Trump took office, he has plenty of time to beat President Barack Obama, who took 682 days — the longest ever for a Democrat — before issuing a pardon or commutation, and President George W. Bush, who waited 699 days, slightly outpacing Bill Clinton's 672-day wait.
It's unclear what explains Trump's decision not to break with recent precedent, as he does frequently in issuing dramatic political and policy announcements through his Twitter feed, sometimes surprising subordinates and upending standard procedures.
But for people hoping Trump would be more generous and return to pre-Bill Clinton practice of early-term clemency, including a man the president openly considered pardoning after making him a campaign talking point, the delay is maddening.
Kristian Saucier, a former Navy sailor referenced repeatedly by Trump, was denied permission to file a pardon request in June and hasn't heard back on a separate request for his one-year prison sentence to be shortened. He expects to be released in early September, a day before his daughter's second birthday, mooting that effort.
Saucier told the Washington Examiner he's frustrated that Trump has not acted.
"If I could directly address President Trump, I would ask him why he brought up my case frequently while campaigning and even after being elected, all the while proclaiming that the punishment enforced upon me was unjust, if he never planned on righting the aforementioned wrong once he possessed the power to do so," Saucier said in a statement sent from prison and forwarded by his wife.
"How can he say that he is a champion for veterans but then turn his back on one in need?" Saucier said.
Saucier received one year in prison for taking photos of information deemed classified inside a submarine. He said he fell victim to an overzealous prosecution for conduct common among the crew. His defense attorney asked the judge unsuccessfully for "the Clinton deal," by which he meant no punishment, in reference to Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server.
Before and even after taking office, Trump championed Saucier's cause, which was distinguishable from Clinton's in part by Saucier's admission in a plea deal that he knowingly broke the law and destroyed evidence.
"That's an old submarine; they've got plenty of pictures, if the enemy wants them, they've got plenty of them. He wanted to take a couple of pictures. They put him in jail for a year," Trump said in a campaign speech, using Saucier as an example of how people other than Clinton were prosecuted for doing "nothing by comparison to what she's done."
Trump said directly in a January interview with Sean Hannity that he was considering clemency for Saucier. "I'm actually looking at it right now," he said, days after taking office. "I think it's very unfair in light of what's happened with other people."
The White House did not immediately respond to an inquiry about Saucier, or about why Trump has waited to use his clemency power.
The Justice Department's Office of the Pardon Attorney, which reviews applications, sent an unsigned email in June communicating the denial of Saucier's request to waive a five-year pardon-request waiting period after conviction, said attorney Jeffrey Addicott, director of the Center for Terrorism Law at St. Mary's University School of Law.
"The incompetence at the Office of the Pardon Attorney is hard to understand given the high profile nature of the case," said Addicott, who no longer represents Saucier. He said he could not get a human being to answer the office's phone and was refused entry when he attempted to visit in person.
Much of the office's work happens behind the scenes. And for the entirety of the Trump administration, the office has been led by an acting U.S. pardon attorney, rather than someone picked to permanently fill the position, though there are signs a search is underway.
Paul Larkin, a Justice Department alum who works as a senior legal research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, said he was contacted more than a month ago by someone at the Justice Department who asked if he was interested in the pardon attorney job. Larkin had previously expressed interest.
Larkin said he provided the Justice Department employee, who he declined to identify, with information about his ideas for reforming the process, and voluntarily withdrew his name after being told, "well, this would be a little dicey given the fact you've said the deputy attorney general suffers from a conflict of interest."
Larkin advocates moving the pardon attorney's office to the White House, seeing a conflict of interest in appeals for clemency being handled by prosecutors. He believes Trump can improve and quicken the process without legislation by making the vice president his primary adviser on clemency matters.
A Justice Department spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the work of the pardon attorney's office, statistics for which are available online, but one attorney for people seeking pardons says there appear to have been no recent FBI reviews of applicants, generally an indication of whether the process is moving.
Margaret Love, the U.S. pardon attorney from 1990 to 1997 under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Clinton, sees Trump's non-use of his clemency power early in his administration as a regrettable continuation of recent practice.
"It is not surprising that President Trump has not yet turned his attention to the ordinary business of pardoning," said Love, who now represents people seeking clemency, some of them waiting for years.
But Love says breaking with recent clemency precedent could be useful to Trump amid ongoing investigations into Russia's role in the 2016 election that touch the president's inner circle.
"Early and regular use of the pardon power to benefit ordinary people is the best way for a president to ensure he can use it later on in less ordinary ways," she said.