President of the United States, Donald Trump has pardoned 73 people, including his former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, and commuted the sentences of 70 others.
The White House announced the last-minute flurry of pardons and commutations early on Wednesday, hours before Trump leaves office.
No members of the American president’s family — including Trump himself — were on the list as was speculated in the waning days of his term.
Bannon, who got a pardon, was charged with federal fraud and money laundering charges in an alleged scheme to defraud supporters of Trump’s top-priority US-Mexico border wall.
The ex-Trump aide, who has pleaded not guilty, had faced trial in May on charges of conspiracy He and three others allegedly swindled donors out of millions of dollars.
Trump had fired Bannon as a White House adviser in 2017, and excoriated him on Twitter at the time. But more recently the former executive chairman of the right-wing outlet Breitbart News reportedly offered the president informal counsel in support of his efforts to overturn the November election that he lost to President-elect Joe Biden.
Bannon wasn’t the only political ally receiving clemency. Another was Elliott Broidy, a Republican fundraiser who raised millions for Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee.
Broidy pleaded guilty in October to working as an unregistered foreign agent and illegally accepting millions of dollars to secretly lobby the Trump administration on behalf of Chinese and Malaysian interests.
Rapper Lil Wayne, who met with and endorsed Trump in the final week of the 2020 campaign, also got a pardon. He was facing up to a 10-year prison sentence for carrying an illegal firearm.
Another rapper Kodak Black, sentenced to three years in 2019 after pleading guilty to a weapons charge, also received clemency.
Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, a Democrat who’d been serving a 28-year sentence after being convicted in 2013 on 24 federal felony counts, including mail fraud, wire fraud and racketeering, was also pardoned.
Although an American president’s pardon power under the Constitution is near absolute, Trump often disregarded the Justice Department office that previous presidents relied on to vet clemency requests for full pardons or commutations of sentences, and instead operated largely on whim.
Prior to the late blitz, Trump had granted 70 pardons, the majority of them in December, according to Justice Department records.
Some of his most controversial pardons, including for former campaign manager Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner’s convict father Charles Kushner, and longtime ally Roger Stone, came after the November election.