As one of his last acts in office, President Donald Trump has pardoned former White House aide and his chief strategist Stephen K Bannon, Reuters reported on Wednesday, 20 January.
A total of 73 individuals were granted pardons and the sentences of 70 others were commuted, the Trump administration said.
"President Trump granted a full pardon to Stephen 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," a statement from White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said.
Bannon was accused of fraud in a case involving the collection of funds for the border wall and was indicted and arrested in August. He pleaded ‘not guilty’ in the case.
According to The New York Times, the outgoing president took the decision despite efforts to sway him. The pardon is a pre-emptive move and will effectively do away with charges against Bannon, should he be convicted.
Others Given Pardon
A pardon was also given to Elliottt Broidy, a Republican fundraiser. According to NYT, he had pleaded guilty to, "Conspiring to violate foreign lobbying laws as part of a covert campaign to influence the Trump administration on behalf of Chinese and Malaysian interests."
Reuters reported, quoting a senior administration official, that Trump has also pardoned rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black, along with former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.
While the former Detroit Mayor was serving a 28-year prison term on corruption charges, the two rappers were prosecuted for federal weapon offences, Reuters reported.
Lil Wayne, whose real name is Dwayne Michael Carter Jr, had voiced his support for Trump’s criminal justice reform efforts and in December, pleaded guilty in federal court to illegal possession of a firearm.
Trump had earlier issued 27 pardons in his term, including National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, and many of them have been requests through friends, celebrities or Fox News personalities.
Flynn was convicted of lying to the FBI about his conversation with the former Russian ambassador, Reuters reported.
The outgoing president has a few hours left of his presidency, with Joe Biden’s inauguration scheduled for 20 January. Biden’s inauguration comes in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic as well as the deadly Capitol riot. The outgoing US President has peddled conspiracy theories of the election being ‘stolen’ from him.
(With inputs from Reuters and The New York Times.)