Trump Grants Pardons to 73 People, Commutes Sentences of 70 More
President Donald Trump has granted pardons to 73 individuals and commuted the sentences of an additional 70 individuals in the final hours of his presidency.
The full list of presidential pardons and commutations published on the White House’s website includes former White House chief strategist and ex-Breitbart editor-in-chief Stephen Bannon, 67, as well as rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black, ex-Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, and former Trump fundraiser Elliott Broidy.
Trump granted Bannon a full pardon. Bannon earlier this year pleaded not guilty to fraud charges relating to fundraising for a private border wall project. He was released on bail in August 2020 and was scheduled to stand trial in May 2021 prior to the pardon.
The release from the White House said of Bannon, “Prosecutors pursued Mr. Bannon with charges related to fraud stemming from his involvement in a political project. Mr. Bannon has been an important leader in the conservative movement and is known for his political acumen.”
Bannon in August 2020 described his arrest as a “political hit job” to “stop and intimidate people” from supporting a U.S.-Mexico border wall. Trump said at the time of Bannon’s arrest that he felt “very badly.”
“I feel very badly. I haven’t been dealing with him for a very long period of time,” Trump told reporters. “I don’t like that project. I thought it was being done for showboating reasons.”
Rapper Lil Wayne, also known as Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., was granted a full pardon. Carter was prosecuted on federal weapons charges, and “pled guilty to possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon, owing to a conviction over 10 years ago,” according to the White House announcement. The announcement notes that Carter has since “exhibited this generosity through commitment to a variety of charities, including donations to research hospitals and a host of foodbanks.” His pardon is supported by football coach Deion Sanders and businessman Brett Berish.
Rapper Kodak Black, also known as Bill Kapri, was sentenced to 46 months in prison for making a false statement on a federal document and has served nearly half of his sentence. The White House announcement noted that Kapri’s commutation is supported by many religious and community leaders, and that he was involved in “numerous philanthropic efforts” prior to his conviction.
Former Mayor of Detroit, Kilpatrick, has served about seven years of a 28-year prison term for his role in a racketeering and bribery scheme while in office. Prominent members of the Detroit community, including Alice Johnson, Diamond and Silk, and Pastor Paula White, support his commutation.
Broidy, a former top fundraiser for Trump during the 2016 campaign, pleaded guilty in October 2020 to violating lobbying laws by attempting to influence the administration on behalf of Chinese and Malaysian interests.
Trump also granted full pardons to Todd Farha, Thaddeus Bereday, William Kale, Paul Behrens, Peter Clay, figures who are “Widely cited as a case study in overcriminalization” and have attracted broad support for their pardon, according to the White House announcement.
“In 2008, Messrs. Farha, Bereday, Kale, Behrens, and Clay were criminally prosecuted for a state regulatory matter involving the reporting of expenditures to a state health agency,” the announcement of their pardon reads. “The expenditures reported were based on actual monies spent, and the reporting methodology was reviewed and endorsed by those with expertise in the state regulatory scheme. Notably, there was no evidence that any of the individuals were motivated by greed. And in fact, the sentencing judge called the likelihood that there was any personal financial motivation ‘infinitesimal.’
It continues, “The judge imposed a range of sentences from probation to 3 years’ imprisonment, reflecting the conduct as an aberration from these individuals’ otherwise law-abiding lives. Messrs. Farha, Bereday, Kale, Behrens, and Clay are described as devoted to their family and their communities, and have weathered their convictions without complaint.”
The pardon power applies to federal crimes and is one of the broadest powers available to a president. The decision to pardon is not reviewable by other branches of government and the president does not have to provide a reason for issuing a pardon.
Trump in his last week in office did not hold any public events. The president has instead been issuing a number of memorandums and executive orders, including ordering the declassification of previously confidential documents related to “Crossfire Hurricane,” the FBI’s investigation of his 2016 campaign.
Trump and First Lady Melania Trump are not attending the planned inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, and instead will leave Washington on Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. for Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida.
Individuals not on the list of pardons and commutations—but were frequently discussed on social media prior to the White House announcement—include WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, former CIA employee and whistleblower Edward Snowden, and Joe Exotic, a former zoo operator who was convicted on charges of animal abuse and an attempted murder for hire plot.