Politics & Policy

Trump Grants Clemency to Bannon, 142 Others on Eve of Inauguration

Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon exits the Manhattan Federal Court in the New York City, August 20, 2020. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

President Trump issued 70 commutations and pardoned 73 people, including his former political strategist Steve Bannon, on early Wednesday in his final hours in office.

Bannon had pleaded not guilty to charges that he defrauded donors in a “We Build the Wall” online fundraising campaign.

“Mr. Bannon has been an important leader in the conservative movement and is known for his political acumen,” the White House said in the statement.

Others among the list of 143 people included Elliott Broidy, a former top fundraiser for the president’s campaign who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy relating to a secret lobbying campaign to influence the Trump administration for a foreign billionaire for millions of dollars, as well as rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black, who had pleaded guilty to a gun possession charge and a weapons charge, respectively.

Trump commuted the sentence of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and granted clemency to Paul Erickson, a conservative political operative who dated alleged Russian spy Maria Butina.

Kilpatrick was serving a nearly 30-year sentence on federal charges including racketeering, extortion and the filing of false tax returns, while Erickson pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering charges.

Trump also offered clemency to North Carolina political donor Robin Hayes, who was convicted of trying to bribe officials; Aviem Sella, an Israeli air force officer who the U.S. accused of working as a spy; and professional sports gambler William Walters, who was convicted of insider trading.

However, Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as Joe Exotic, from Tiger King did not receive a pardon after his team had expressed confidence that Trump would issue one.

Trump was not expected to try to issue himself or family members a preemptive pardon, according to Fox News.

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