US President Donald Trump has granted clemency for a host of names from rappers to financiers and lobbyists.
Trump has pardoned former chief strategist Steve Bannon as part of a late flurry of clemency action benefiting nearly 150 people.
The pardons and commutations for 143 people, including Bannon, were announced after midnight on Wednesday in the final hours of Trump’s White House term.
Why does the pardon exist?
The aspect of the presidential pardon is as old as the office itself. Alexander Hamilton proposed the president be given the power to pardon in a bid to “restore the tranquillity of the commonwealth” Under article two of the US constitution, the presidents enjoy broad and unchallengeable powers to pardon individuals for federal crimes. According to a Supreme Court ruling. this right is “without limit”.
The pardon has been a source of contention, in 1795 George Washington amnestied two men who rebelled against a federal tax on alcohol. Bill Clinton also issued around 140 pardons, exonerated billionaire fugitive Marc Rich on his last day in office.
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What has Trump’s White House said about the pardons?
The pardons and commutations for 143 people, including Bannon, were announced in the final hours of Trump’s White House term.
A statement from the White House said: “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.”
Steve Bannon and political allies pardoned
As mentioned, Donald Trump has carried out a number of pardons,
Bannon had been charged with duping thousands of investors who believed their money would be used to fulfill Mr Trump’s chief campaign promise to build a wall along the southern border.
Instead, he allegedly diverted over a million dollars, paying a salary to one campaign official and personal expenses for himself.
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In August, he was pulled from a luxury yacht off the coast of Connecticut and brought before a judge in Manhattan, where he pleaded not guilty.
Mr Trump has already pardoned a slew of long-time associates and supporters, including his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort; Charles Kushner, the father of his son-in-law; his long-time friend and adviser Roger Stone; and his former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Besides Bannon, other pardon recipients included Elliott Broidy, a Republican fundraiser who pleaded guilty last autumn in a scheme to lobby the Trump administration to drop an investigation into the looting of a Malaysian wealth fund, and Ken Kurson, a friend of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner who was charged last October with cyberstalking during a divorce.
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What is unusual about Steve Bannon’s pardon?
Bannon – who served in the Navy and worked at Goldman Sachs and as a Hollywood producer before turning to politics – led the conservative Breitbart News before being tapped to serve as chief executive officer of Mr Trump’s 2016 campaign in its critical final months.
He later served as chief strategist to the president during the turbulent early days of Trump’s administration and was at the forefront of many of its most contentious policies, including its travel ban on several majority-Muslim countries.
But Bannon, who clashed with other top advisers, was pushed out after less than a year. And his split with Mr Trump deepened after he was quoted in a 2018 book making critical remarks about some of Mr Trump’s adult children.
President Donald Trump granted clemency to former White House aide Steve Bannon as part of a wave of pardons and commutations issued in his final hours in office, but he did not pardon himself, members of his family or lawyer Rudy Giuliani https://t.co/lSkZ43loZn pic.twitter.com/ayyEW6btEs
— Reuters (@Reuters) January 20, 2021
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Bannon apologised and soon stepped down as chairman of Breitbart. He and Trump have recently reconciled.
Bannon’s pardon was especially out of nature of the process given that the prosecution was still in its early stages and any trial was months away. Whereas pardon recipients are conventionally thought of as defendants who have faced justice, often by having served at least some prison time, the pardon nullifies the prosecution and effectively eliminates any prospect for punishment.
Who else has been pardoned?
Wednesday’s list also includes rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black, both convicted in Florida on weapons charges.
Wayne, whose real name is Dwayne Michael Carter, has frequently expressed support for Mr Trump and recently met with the president on criminal justice issues.
Others on the list included Death Row Records co-founder Michael Harris and New York art dealer and collector Hillel Nahmad.
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Other pardon recipients include former Representative Rick Renzi, an Arizona Republican who served three years for corruption, money laundering and other charges, and former Representative Duke Cunningham, who was convicted of accepting 2.4 million dollars in bribes from defence contractors. Cunningham, who was released from prison in 2013, received a conditional pardon.
Mr Trump also commuted the prison sentence of former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who has served about seven years behind bars for a racketeering and bribery scheme.
Could Trump pardon himself?
There is no precedent for a US leader issuing such a pardon, and while some do not believe it is possible, others say the constitution does not preclude a self-pardon.
Did the Tiger King get pardoned?
A name that many expected to see in the president’s flurry of pardons wasTiger King Joe Exotic.
Early reports indicated that his team was so confident in a pardon that they had readied a celebratory limousine and a hair and wardrobe team to whisk him away from his 22-year federal prison sentence in Texas.
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Joe Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, was sentenced in January 2020 to 22 years in federal prison for violating federal wildlife laws and for his role in a failed murder-for-hire plot targeting his chief rival, Carole Baskin, who runs a rescue sanctuary for big cats in Florida. Ms Baskin was not harmed.
In his pardon application filed in September, Maldonado-Passage’s lawyers argued that he was “railroaded and betrayed” by others.
Tiger Team founder Eric Love, who was running the campaign to get Joe out of prison, told KOCO 5 in Oklahoma he was “absolutely confident” that Exotic get a pardon from Trump. He also admitted that he had filmed a video in advance to thank the president.
Maldonado-Passage, 57, is scheduled to be released from custody in 2037, but his lawyers said in the application that “he will likely die in prison” because of health concerns.
The full list of Trump’s presidential pardons
Carl Andrews Boggs
Dr Scott Harkonen
Johnny D Phillips Jr
Dr Mahmoud Reza Banki
James E Johnson Jr
Scott Conor Crosby
Joshua J Smith
Dr Frederick Nahas
Dr Faustino Bernadett
Gregory Jorgensen, Deborah Jorgensen, Martin Jorgensen (posthumous)
Todd Farha, Thaddeus Bereday, William Kale, Paul Behrens, Peter Clay
Patrick Lee Swisher
Dr Robert S Corkern
David Lamar Clanton
Robert “Bob” Zangrillo
John Duncan Fordham
William “Ed” Henry
Randall “Duke” Cunningham – conditional pardon
Steven Benjamin Floyd
David E Miller
James Austin Hayes
Robert Cannon “Robin” Hayes
Thomas Kenton “Ken” Ford
Ferrell Damon Scott
Jerry Donnell Walden
Jeffrey Alan Conway
Matthew Antoine Canady
Rodney Nakia Gibson
Tom Leroy Whitehurst
Monstsho Eugene Vernon
Luis Fernando Sicard
Traie Tavares Kelly
Eric Wesley Patton
Robert William Cawthon
Hal Knudson Mergler
Gary Evan Hendler
John Harold Wall
Steven Samuel Grantham
Clarence Olin Freeman
Fred Keith Alford
Kenneth Charles Fragoso
Way Quoe Long
Jaime A Davidson
John Estin Davis
Jawad A Musa
Jodi Lynn Richter
Cassandra Ann Kasowski
Lerna Lea Paulson
Fred “Dave” Clark
James Brian Cruz