Jan. 20 (UPI) — In his final hours at the White House, President Donald Trump granted clemency late Tuesday to dozens of people, including his former adviser Stephen Bannon and top election fundraiser Elliott Broidy.
In total, Trump pardoned 73 people and commuted the prison sentences of 70 others in one of his final actions as president of the United States, the White House said in a statement.
Though the majority of those named were convicted of drug, fraud and low-level crimes, the names of Bannon and Broidy stick out as they are associates of the president.
Bannon, a former senior White House adviser, was arrested and charged in August for allegedly defrauding donors of hundreds of thousands of dollars in connection to an online crowdfunding campaign known as “We Build the Wall” in 2018.
Prosecutors accused Bannon of receiving more than $1 million through the campaign, of which he used hundreds of thousands of dollars to cover personal expenses.
In the statement, the White House said Trump granted a full pardon to Bannon as prosecutors pursued “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,” the statement said.
“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,” he said. “And if that all sounds crazy, that’s because it is.”
Broidy, who was a top fundraiser for Trump’s 2016 election campaign, pleaded guilty in October to conspiring to violate the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
Prosecutors charged Broidy with attempting to illegally lobby Trump, the Justice Department and its attorney general to drop a case against a foreign national concerning the embezzlement of billions of dollars from a Malaysian government strategic investment fund known as 1MDB.
The president also granted Broidy a full pardon, the White House said, stating it was supported by several lawmakers, religious leaders and others.
“Mr. Broidy is well known for his numerous philanthropic efforts, including on behalf of law enforcement, the military and veterans programs, and the Jewish community,” the White House said.
In a statement, Noah Bookbinder, a former federal corruption prosecutor and executive director of watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, derided the pardons of Bannon and Broidy.
“Even Nixon didn’t pardon his cronies on the way out,” he said. “Amazingly, in his final 24 hours, Donald Trump found one more way to fail to live up to the ethical standard of Richard Nixon.”
Trump also pardoned Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr., known better by his stage name Lil Wayne, who pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm charge in December, and commuted the sentence of Bill Kapri, known as Kodak Black, who was sentenced to nearly 4 years in prison for making false statements on a federal document.
The swath of 11th-hour pardons and commutations granted on Tuesday night follow Trump having granted clemency in the months leading up to his final day in office to close aides, associates and friends, including his former campaign adviser Roger Stone, his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his former foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, among others.