News ID: 279690
Published: 0301 GMT January 20, 2021

Trump grants clemency to 143 associates, felons in late-night pardon blast

Trump grants clemency to 143 associates, felons in late-night pardon blast

Outgoing US President Donald Trump granted clemency to dozens of people on Wednesday, including his former strategist Steve Bannon, the rapper Lil Wayne and former Detroit mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, in one of his final official acts as president.

A list of pardons and commutations the White House released early on Wednesday, Trump’s last day in office, doesn’t include the president himself, reported.

Trump had discussed preemptively pardoning himself and associates, but some advisers had cautioned the president against what would have been an unprecedented action, according to people familiar with the matter.

The president pardoned 73 people and commuted the sentences of 70. Many are relatively little-known felons, but the list includes a number of celebrities, former lawmakers, executives and people connected to the president, his family or members of Congress.

Trump didn’t grant clemency to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange or former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

Despite speculation, the list did not include the subject of the Netflix series ‘Tiger King’, Joe Exotic, who is serving a 22-year prison sentence for plotting to kill a rival and animal cruelty.

Before finally signing the paperwork shortly before midnight, the president spent part of Tuesday consumed with indecision over whether to pardon Bannon, according to two aides.

Some inside the White House believed on Monday that Bannon would not get a pardon, but Trump continued to weigh the matter — balancing Bannon’s previous help to him, and potential to help him in the future, versus what he viewed as disloyal behavior at times — then spoke to him on Tuesday.

Bannon, 67, and three others were accused of making fraudulent representations as they solicited more than $25 million in donations for a fundraising campaign called ‘We Build the Wall’, much of it from Trump’s supporters.

The former Breitbart News chairman had served as chief executive of Trump’s 2016 campaign and then White House chief strategist until he was ousted in August 2017 amid clashes with other aides. In recent months, Bannon had reestablished ties with Trump, vocally supporting his reelection and attempts to overturn the November results and speaking to him in recent weeks, officials said.

The last-minute clemency extended to Bannon underscores how Trump has used his presidential power to benefit allies and political backers. He had previously pardoned or commuted the sentences of his former campaign chairman, former national security adviser and a former campaign foreign policy adviser.

He pardoned a former top fundraiser for the Republican Party, Elliott Broidy, who pleaded guilty in October to illegally lobbying on behalf of a Malaysian businessman seeking to end a federal investigation into the 1MDB scandal.

In addition to Wayne, another rapper Kodak Black was also among the beneficiaries of Trump’s wave of pardons on Wednesday, befitting a president who made his name in New York’s tabloids and on reality TV.

Wayne, whose legal name is Dwayne Carter Jr., appeared to support Trump on the campaign trail ahead of Trump’s reelection bid when Carter said he backed Trump’s criminal justice reform program and economic plan for African Americans.

Carter pleaded guilty last month to illegally possessing a loaded, gold-plated handgun when his chartered jet landed in Miami in December 2019. He faced a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

Black, 23, who was born Bill Kahan Kapri, is in federal prison for making a false statement to buy a firearm.

Black pleaded guilty in August 2019, and three months later was sentenced to three years and 10 months in prison. He was seeking compassionate release and his commutation was supported by religious leaders, other rappers and athletes.

Advocates for criminal justice reform lamented that many deserving people were overlooked in the clemency process because the president appeared focused on handing out political favors.

Trump, who delivered his first pardon in August 2017, his first year in office, had issued 70 in total before Wednesday, many of which have been given to people who are friendly with his administration.


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