In final hours of presidency, Trump pardons ex-strategist Steve Bannon
Giving a final gift to his aides, the outgoing United States President Donald Trump on Wednesday pardoned a number of his aides, including Steve Bannon, his former chief strategist, and Elliott Broidy, one of his top fund-raisers. In total 143 people were given clemency — 73 people were given pardons and sentences were commuted for 70 others. Trump didn't pardon himself.
Bannon is accused of duping Trump's supporters
67-year-old Bannon was charged with fraud last year and arrested in August for misusing $1 million, out of the $25 million, that a pro-Trump group raised to build sections of the US-Mexico wall. Faced with charges, Bannon, however, pleaded not guilty. He also had a fallout with Trump but the two rebuilt ties after he supported the latter's unfounded theories about the November elections.
'Bannon is an important leader in conservative movement'
The pardon given to Bannon raised eyebrows as his trial was yet to begin. Reportedly, White House advisers didn't favor his pardon and by Tuesday afternoon believed they had convinced Trump to not go ahead with it. He clearly changed his mind later. "Bannon has been an important leader in the conservative movement and is known for his political acumen," the statement read.
Broidy, who admitted to charges, was also pardoned
Trump pardoned Broidy, who had admitted that he conspired to violate foreign lobbying laws in connection to the Malaysia 1MDB corruption scandal. Before today's spate of pardons and commutations, Trump had pardoned his former National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, who admitted twice that he lied to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in connection to the probe pertaining to Russian meddling in the 2016 elections.
Lil Wayne was pardoned, so was Kodak Black
Today, Trump also pardoned rapper Lil Wayne, who pleaded guilty to a charge linked to gun possession. Kodak Black is another rapper who was pardoned despite pleading guilty to a weapons charge. Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who is serving a 28-year prison term for corruption, was pardoned as well. Conservative Paul Erickson who admitted to money laundering charges was also granted clemency.
Israeli officer indicted on espionage charges got reprieve
A former Israeli Air Force officer, Aviem Sella, who was indicted in 1987 by the US for espionage, as well as Robert Zangrillo, a Miami real estate developer, who was accused of bribing officials of the University of Southern California to get benefits for his daughter, joined the long list of people whom Trump granted clemency. Professional sports gambler William Walters, convicted of insider trading, was also on the list of 143.
Democrat Adam Schiff dubbed Bannon's pardon 'crazy'
Reacting to the news of Bannon's pardon, Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, said it sounds crazy. "Steve Bannon is getting a pardon from Trump after defrauding Trump's own supporters into paying for a wall that Trump promised Mexico would pay for. Thank God we have only 12 more hours of this den of thieves, (sic)" he wrote. President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn-in today.