ALL NEWS

Trump’s last-minute pardons include Bannon, Lil Wayne and scores of others

Jan 20, 2021, 7:10 AM
US President Donald Trump (L) congratulates Senior Counselor to the President Stephen Bannon during...
US President Donald Trump (L) congratulates Senior Counselor to the President Stephen Bannon during the swearing-in of senior staff in the East Room of the White House on January 22, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

    (CNN) — President Donald Trump issued a raft of 11th-hour pardons and commutations early Wednesday that included his onetime political strategist, a former top fundraiser and two well-known rappers but not himself or his family.

The batch of 73 pardons and 70 commutations issued in the final hours of his presidency was expected, and is in keeping with a long-standing presidential tradition of exercising clemency powers at the last minute.

The list reflected a President keen on awarding pardons to his stalwart allies, an unusual number of whom have been swept up in corruption or lying charges.

The vast majority of the pardons and commutations on Trump’s list were doled out to individuals whose cases have been championed by criminal justice reform advocates, including people serving lengthy sentences for low-level offenses.

But several controversial names do appear, including Steve Bannon, who has pleaded not guilty to charges he defrauded donors in a “We Build the Wall” online fundraising campaign. Trump had spent the past days deliberating over a pardon for the man who helped him win the presidency in 2016 and followed him to the White House. During his final hours in office there was a frantic debate underway behind the scenes on whether to grant Bannon a pardon.

Full list of pardons and commutations granted by President Donald Trump 

One concern was Bannon’s possible connection to the January 6 riot of Trump supporters at the US Capitol, according to a source familiar with the discussions.

Over the course of Tuesday, Trump continued to contemplate pardons that aides believed were settled, including for his former strategist. The President continued to go back and forth on it into Tuesday night, sources told CNN.

Other names included Tuesday were Elliott Broidy, a former top fundraiser for Trump’s campaign who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy relating to a secret lobbying campaign to influence the Trump administration on behalf of a foreign billionaire in exchange for millions of dollars.

The rapper Lil Wayne received a pardon after pleading guilty to a gun possession charge in Miami. Another rapper, Kodak Black, received a commutation after he pleaded guilty to a weapons charge.

Trump also offered clemency to Paul Erickson, the conservative political operative and ex-boyfiend of alleged Russian spy Maria Butina, who pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering charges; Robin Hayes, a North Carolina political donor convicted of trying to bribe officials; Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, convinced of federal charges including racketeering, extortion and the filing of false tax returns; William Walters, a professional sports gambler convicted of insider trading; and Aviem Sella, an Israeli air force officer who the US accused of being a spy.

Bob Zangrillo, the Miami developer and venture capitalist charged in the Varsity Blues college admission scandal, also received a pardon. None of the other parents caught up in the probe were pardoned.

Though neither Trump or members of his family were included on his list, Trump has until noon on Wednesday to issue any final pardons before leaving office.

Last-minute scramble

Trump’s final acts of clemency come after a scramble in recent days among criminal justice reform advocates and several White House officials to finalize the list and convince Trump to approve the actions. These pardons will undoubtedly be overshadowed by the slew of controversial ones Trump also issue in the same final batch on Tuesday.

While outgoing presidents typically issue pardons before leaving office, Trump has proven more willing to use his pardon power to brazenly reward political loyalty, the wealthy and well-connected and those who did not cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

The January 6 violence that led to Trump’s second impeachment have complicated his desire to pardon himself, his kids and personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and a source close to the process said those are no longer expected.

After the violence, advisers encouraged Trump to forgo a self-pardon because it would appear like he was guilty of something, according to one person familiar with the conversations. Several of Trump’s closest advisers have also urged him not to grant clemency to anyone involved in the siege on the US Capitol, despite Trump’s initial stance that those involved had done nothing wrong.

Refocus on pardons

After weeks focusing on contesting the election and reeling from the fallout of the January 6 insurrection, Trump finally snapped back to attention on pardons in recent days, one source said.

“You couldn’t get the President to focus on this,” a source close to the process said of Trump in recent weeks. “And then this weekend, he didn’t have his Twitter, he didn’t have all these other distractions.”

Trump, who sank deeper into lame duck status in recent weeks, was reminded that his pardon power is one of the remaining undiminished aspects of his presidential power.

This source said Trump also resonated with cases in which individuals who went to trial got significantly more prison time than co-defendants who cooperated with law enforcement.

“I don’t think he likes when people get screwed just because they go to trial,” this source said.

While Jared Kushner has been closely involved in pardons throughout his time at the White House, this source said that Ivanka Trump became much more closely involved in the push for pardons in recent days.

Together, Kushner and Ivanka Trump worked with the White House counsel’s office and Justice Department while also working to convince Trump to support a series of clemency actions in the vein of criminal justice reform.

After meetings this weekend, Trump met again with his daughter, son-in-law and other White House officials on Monday to finalize the list of clemency actions.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

All News

education legislation...
Mark Jones

One Utah lawmaker wants to ban cellphones in classrooms

One Utah lawmaker wants to ban cellphones in Utah classrooms.
21 hours ago
Schools in the Cache County School District are on a 2-hour delayed start on Tuesday, Jan. 31, due ...
Devin Oldroyd

Freezing weather causes delayed start for Cache County School District schools

Schools in the Cache County School District are on a 2-hour delayed start on Tuesday, Jan. 31, due to weather conditions.
21 hours ago
FILE - A doctor loads a dose of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, at ...
Aimee Cobabe

Bill banning vaccine passports heading to Utah Senate

A bill to ban vaccine passports is heading out of the Utah House and into the Utah Senate. The bill is similar to a failed bill from 2022.
21 hours ago
A two-vehicle crash Monday morning on U.S. Highway 40 claimed the life of a 19-year-old man. Photo ...
Mark Jones

Crash in Uintah County claims the life of a 19-year-old man

UINTAH COUNTY, Utah — A 19-year-old man died Monday morning in a two-vehicle crash on U.S. Highway 40 in Uintah County. The Utah Highway Patrol says the crash occurred near milepost 137 at 7:11 a.m. The UHP says a 2017 Nissan Rouge was heading westbound. The 19-year-old victim was the driver of the Nissan Rouge. […]
21 hours ago
It's so cold today (Jan. 30) that plumbers are expecting calls anytime from customers needing servi...
Curt Gresseth

When it’s this cold, keep your pipes from freezing. Here’s how.

It's so cold outside today that a plumber has joined the show to share tips on keeping your pipes inside and outside your home from freezing.
21 hours ago
road home...
Allie Litzinger

The road home is in need of donations and volunteers this winter

SALT LAKE CITY — Cooler temperatures leave the homeless and unhoused service providers vulnerable. Road Home community coordination director Karissa Guthrie says they are in need of cold weather clothing and hand warmers most. These providers are always in need of donations no matter the season, however freezing temperatures only worsen the situation. “Lets say […]
21 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...
Macey's

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
Trump’s last-minute pardons include Bannon, Lil Wayne and scores of others