President Trump pardoned his former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, who was indicted for allegedly defrauding hundreds of thousands of individuals in an online effort to raise funds for a southern boundary wall — among dozens of acts of clemency from the last hours of his government.
The lengthy list of all 73 pardons and 70 commutations landed after midnight. Trump is supposed to depart the White House for the last time Wednesday morning, skipping the inaugural ceremonies of the successor, President-elect Joe Biden.
Other notable names on Trump’s clemency list included Rapper Lil Wayne, who received a complete pardon after being charged late last year with ownership of a firearm and ammunition by a felon. Wayne, whose real name is Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., supported Trump before the November election, tweeting a picture of himself with the president.
Bill Kapri, the rapper better called Kodak Black, had his sentence commuted, as did Michael”Harry O” Harris, the co-founder of all Death Row Records.
Trump embraced his clemency power early in his presidency, and has primarily utilized it to help out prominent supporters. Also on his latest record: Elliott Broidy, a former fundraiser for the Republican National Committee, and Paul Erickson, yet another former fundraiser whose Russian girlfriend was employed as a foreign agent.
Since he lost the election, Trump has awakened his use of his pardon authority, granting clemency to nearly 50 people per week before Christmas. Overall, he had issued about 90 pardons and commutations earlier this latest batch.
A number of the people granted clemency have been connected or convicted of white collar offenses. There were not any family members on Trump’s new list, but Kenneth Kurson, a pal of his own son-in-law Jared Kushner, was given a full pardon for cyberstalking his ex-wife.
Tommaso Buti, who was charged with financial fraud after he started a restaurant chain featuring supermodels called Fashion Cafe, was also given a complete pardon. Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, serving 28 years for corruption, had his sentence commuted. And Trump pardoned Robert Zangrillo, a Miami businessman charged in the school admissions bribery scandal known as Varsity Blues.
Advocates have pressed Trump to provide clemency to individuals serving years behind bars for non invasive drug crimes. While Trump has issued some pardons to individuals such as Alice Johnson, a Dark grandma who was sentenced to life in prison for a first-time drug conviction, he had intervened in such situations much less often.
His last large pardons push comprised scores of people advocated for clemency by advocates as well as the Justice Department’s Office of the Pardon Attorney.
It’s not unusual for presidents to issue a wave of pardons and commutations in their last days at the office. Former President Barack Obama granted clemency to 330 inmates serving time for drug crimes the day prior to the conclusion of the term. This was a part of Obama’s push to address mass incarceration brought on by the war on drugs.
One of the most infamous 11th-hour pardon sprees occurred under former President Bill Clinton. He pardoned over 100 people on his final day in office, such as his brother, Roger Clinton, along with fugitive financier Marc Rich.
Master and apprentice
Bannon was detained in August and three other guys on cable fraud and money laundering charges stemming from their job for”We Build The Wall,” an online crowdfunding campaign that raised more than $25 million to construct a wall across the U.S.-Mexico border.
Prosecutors say Bannon and his fellow defendants, though they’d promised donors that the funds goes toward the wall, secretly siphoned off hundreds of thousands of dollars and lined their own pockets.
Bannon allegedly received more than $1 million in the company via a nonprofit that he controls, according to the indictment, and some of the money was utilized to cover hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal expenses.
Trump and Bannon have had a mutually beneficial relationship that’s also at times been rocky.
Bannon was running the far-right news outlet Breitbart when Trump tapped him to direct his effort in the final months of this 2016 race. After helping Trump pull out his surprise victory, Bannon followed him to the White House as chief strategist.
He helped push some of the most divisive actions from the first days of this Trump administration, including the so-called Muslim ban.
Bannon’s major role introduced the media spotlight, such as a photograph on the cover of Time Magazine with the headline:”The Great Manipulator.” The pay allegedly rankled the president, who was stated to believe he deserved more credit than his advisor.
After a bumpy eight weeks at the White House that included no shortage of sniping and palace intrigue, Bannon was pushed out of the administration.
He returned into Breitbart, where he continued to push a nationalist, pro-Trump message. But his connection with the president continued to fray, such as over damaging statements credited to Bannon from tell-all publications about the Trump White House.
Nevertheless both men never completely parted ways. Bannon mounted a vigorous defense of the president through his initial impeachment proceedings, launching a podcast and radio show to defend Trump.