Trump pardons 73: President grants clemency to Steve Bannon who 'defrauded MAGA fans out of $1M', Lil Wayne, Kodak Black and dozens of convicted politicians

 Donald Trump has granted clemency to Steve Bannon as part of a wave of 143 pardons and commutations announced early Wednesday morning during the president's final hours in office. 

Bannon, 67, helped Trump win the election in 2016 and was a senior White House adviser. In August last year he pleaded not guilty to charges that he defrauded MAGA donors to 'We Build the Wall,' an online campaign that raised $25 million.     

Pardoning Bannon in a list that dropped shortly after midnight the White House 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.'

Trump has also pardoned rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black who were prosecuted on federal weapons offenses, as well as former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who was serving a 28-year prison term on corruption charges.  

He will also pardon Elliott Broidy, a former top fundraiser for Trump who pleaded guilty last year to violating foreign lobbying laws, Ken Kurson, a friend of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner who was charged last October with cyberstalking during a heated divorce and Anthony Levandowski, a former Google engineer was sentenced to 18 months in prison for stealing the internet giant's self-driving car files ahead of joining Uber.

But notable names not on the list were Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, Tiger King's Joe Exotic, Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani or any members of the Trump family, all of whom were rumored to be under consideration. 

It also ended years of speculation that Trump would try to immunize himself, an unprecedented and legally questionable step which he had previously claimed he had the power to take. 

The list was issued just hours before Trump leaves the White House for the last time and the pardon power, nuclear codes and other trappings of the presidency are transferred to Joe Biden, who will take the oath of office at noon Eastern time.  

Leaving under the cloud of a second impeachment and the riot he provoked at the Capitol two weeks ago, Trump wished luck to the new administration in a 'farewell address' last night but did not mention Biden by name and still has not accepted in public that he legitimately lost the election.  

Donald Trump  has pardoned Steve Bannon. The former White House Chief Strategist, center, exits the Manhattan Federal Court on August 20 last year after he was accused of defrauding donors in a $25 million border wall fundraising campaign

Donald Trump  has pardoned Steve Bannon. The former White House Chief Strategist, center, exits the Manhattan Federal Court on August 20 last year after he was accused of defrauding donors in a $25 million border wall fundraising campaign

Trump, pictured during the pre-taped farewell address that was released by the White House last night, appeared to have been dissuaded from pardoning himself or members of his family but Bannon's clemency came as part of a wave of 143 pardons and commutations Trump will issue during his final hours in office Wednesday

Trump, pictured during the pre-taped farewell address that was released by the White House last night, appeared to have been dissuaded from pardoning himself or members of his family but Bannon's clemency came as part of a wave of 143 pardons and commutations Trump will issue during his final hours in office Wednesday

Final hours: A Marine stands on duty outside the West Wing last night in the dying hours of the Trump presidency, which saw him issue 143 pardons and commutations

Final hours: A Marine stands on duty outside the West Wing last night in the dying hours of the Trump presidency, which saw him issue 143 pardons and commutations 


Bannon had fallen out with Trump after he was quoted calling the president's son Don Jr. 'treasonous' and his daughter Ivanka 'dumb as a brick'. Trump said then: 'Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency.' 

But the two men have since rekindled their relationship as Trump sought support for his unproven claims of voter fraud, an official familiar with the situation said. White House officials are said to have advised Trump against pardoning Bannon.    

Bannon can still be charged in state court in New York, where a pardon would not help him, said Daniel R. Alonso, a former prosecutor now at the Buckley law firm. Fraud prosecutions are frequently brought by the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, Alonso 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,' Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff said on Twitter. 'And if that all sounds crazy, that's because it is. Thank God we have only 12 more hours of this den of thieves.'  

Bannon was in August last year pulled from a luxury yacht and arrested on allegations that he and three associates ripped off donors trying to fund a southern border wall. 

The organizers of the 'We Build The Wall' group portrayed themselves as eager to help the president build a 'big beautiful' barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border, as he promised during the 2016 campaign. 

They raised more than $25million from thousands of donors and pledged that 100% of the money would be used for the project.

But according to the criminal charges, much of the money never made it to the wall. Instead, it was used to line the pockets of group members, including Bannon, who served in Trump's White House and worked for his campaign.

He allegedly took over $1 million, using some to secretly pay co-defendant Brian Kolfage, an Air Force veteran who lost both legs in a mortar attack in Iraq and the founder of the project, and to cover hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal expenses.

'This case should serve as a warning to other fraudsters that no one is above the law, not even a disabled war veteran or a millionaire political strategist,' said Philip R. Bartlett, inspector-in-charge of the New York office of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, which arrested Bannon.  

After the arrest, Trump quickly distanced himself from Bannon and the project. 'When I read about it, I didn't like it. I said this is for government, this isn't for private people. And it sounded to me like showboating,' he told reporters at the White House. 

A voice of nationalist, outsider conservatism, Bannon led the conservative Breitbart News before being tapped to serve as chief executive officer of Trump's campaign in its critical final months. 

He later served as chief strategist 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 Trump deepened after he was quoted in a 2018 book making critical remarks about some of Trump's adult children. Bannon apologized and soon stepped down as chairman of Breitbart.

Bannon, who served in the Navy and worked as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs and as a Hollywood producer before turning to politics, now hosts a pro-Trump podcast called 'War Room,' which began during the president's impeachment proceedings and has continued during the pandemic.   


Trump (left) poses for a picture with Lil Wayne (right) when they met in October 2020

Trump (left) poses for a picture with Lil Wayne (right) when they met in October 2020 

Trump pardoned rapper Kodak Black who were prosecuted on federal weapons offenses

Trump pardoned rapper Kodak Black who were prosecuted on federal weapons offenses

Trump also pardoned Elliott Broidy, pictured, a prominent fundraiser for Republicans, charged in an illicit lobbying campaign
He also pardoned former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who was serving a 28-year prison term on corruption charges

Trump also pardoned Elliott Broidy, left, a prominent fundraiser for Republicans, charged in an illicit lobbying campaign He also pardoned former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, right, who was serving a 28-year prison term on corruption charges

Another pardon recipient, Lil Wayne, pleaded guilty last month to possessing a loaded, gold-plated handgun when his chartered jet landed in Miami in December 2019. 

The rapper, whose real name is Dwayne Michael Carter Jr, had faced a sentence of up to 10 years in prison at a January 28 hearing in Miami.   

He appeared to support Trump during last year's presidential campaign when he tweeted a photo of himself with the president and said he backed Trump's criminal justice reform program and economic plan for African Americans. 

Kodak Black, 23, who was born Bill Kahan Kapri, was also convicted in Florida on weapons charges and was serving time in federal prison for making a false statement in order to buy a firearm. 

But his sentence was commuted by Trump, with the White House saying the clemency was supported by 'numerous religious leaders' as well as NFL players and other 'community leaders'.  

There was also a grant of clemency for Death Row Records co-founder Michael 'Harry-O' Harris, who is set to be released from a California federal prison Tuesday after 32 years behind bars for attempted murder and cocaine trafficking. 

Rapper Snoop Dogg had taken up Harris's cause and lobbied the president to free him from prison - overriding the objections of White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, DailyMail.com understands.  

Trump commuted Harris's sentence with the White House saying he 'has had an exemplary prison record for three decades' and had 'completed courses towards business and journalism degrees'.  

He will also pardon Ken Kurson, a friend of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, pictured together, who was charged last October with cyberstalking during a heated divorce

He will also pardon Ken Kurson, a friend of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, pictured together, who was charged last October with cyberstalking during a heated divorce

Donald Trump has pardoned Death Row Records co-founder and former drug kingpin Michael ¿Harry O¿ Harris after a secret campaign by rapper Snoop Dogg, DailyMail.com can exclusively reveal
Harris, 59, is set to be released from a California federal prison Tuesday after 32 years behind bars for attempted murder and cocaine trafficking.

Donald Trump has pardoned Death Row Records co-founder and former drug kingpin Michael 'Harry O' Harris after a secret campaign by rapper Snoop Dogg, DailyMail.com can exclusively reveal. Harris, 59, is set to be released from a California federal prison Tuesday after 32 years behind bars for attempted murder and cocaine trafficking.

Former Google engineer Anthony Levandowski, convicted of stealing trade secrets from the company, received a full pardon

Former Google engineer Anthony Levandowski, convicted of stealing trade secrets from the company, received a full pardon

The list also included pardons for three former Republican congressmen - Rick Renzi, Robert Hayes and Randall 'Duke' Cunningham. 

Renzi was a three-term Arizona congressman who served three years for corruption, money laundering and other charges, while Cunningham was a California Republican who had also served a prison term for accepting $2.4million in bribes from defense contractors. 

Hayes, of North Carolina, had been sentenced to probation last year for lying to FBI agents during an investigation which saw a political donor in the state jailed for more than seven years. 

Meanwhile, former Google engineer Anthony Levandowski is in the clear after Trump pardoned him for stealing trade secrets from the company before working on self-driving cars for Uber. 

Levandowski transferred more than 14,000 Google files, including development schedules and product designs, to his personal laptop before he left, and while negotiating a new role with Uber. 

The 40-year-old was sentenced to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty in March. He was not in custody but a judge had said he could enter custody once the pandemic subsided. 

The White House said Levandowski had 'paid a significant price for his actions and plans to devote his talents to advance the public good.' 

Other pardons included people facing long sentences over low-level offenses, whose cases have been championed by criminal justice advocates. 

Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon listens during his arraignment hearing for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering inside Manhattan Federal Court in August last year

Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon listens during his arraignment hearing for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering inside Manhattan Federal Court in August last year 

Bannon, now pardoned by Trump, leaves court after 2020 not guilty plea
Loaded: 0%
Progress: 0%
0:00
Previous
Play
Skip
Mute
Current Time0:00
/
Duration Time0:33
Fullscreen
Need Text

The last-ditch clemencies came after Trump previously pardoned former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn for lying to the FBI about his conversation with the former Russian ambassador.  

He also previously commuted the prison term for Roger Stone, who was convicted of lying to Congress during its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.  

But Trump is leaving office without taking the unprecedented step of a self-pardon, a much-debated concept among legal scholars who are not in agreement on whether it would be valid. 

In 2018, the president claimed on Twitter: 'I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?'. 

White House officials had argued to Trump that he should not pardon himself or his family because it might look like they are guilty of crimes, according to a source familiar with the situation.

The pardon power is one of the broadest available to a president, and while pardons are typically given to people who have been prosecuted, they can cover people - like Trump - who have not been charged with any crimes. 

Gerald Ford infamously used the power in this way to pardon his disgraced predecessor Richard Nixon for any crimes he might have committed during the Watergate scandal.   

Jimmy Carter pardoned almost all Vietnam draft evaders after taking office in 1977 in an effort to move the country on from the traumatic years of the war.  

A pardon is not reviewable by other branches of government and the president does not have to give a reason for issuing one. 

But it only covers federal crimes, meaning that even if a self-pardon were accepted as valid, it would not have protected Trump from state financial investigations which are ongoing in New York. 

Pardons shortly before the end of a term are a presidential tradition. Bill Clinton pardoned his half-brother, Roger Clinton, who had been convicted of cocaine possession, and Marc Rich, a billionaire and major donor to the Democratic Party who had been convicted of tax evasion.

Barack Obama commuted the 35-year sentence of Chelsea Manning, a US Army private who had been convicted of providing classified material to WikiLeaks. 

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris (2nd L) with husband Douglas Emhoff and US President-elect Joe Biden (R) with wife Dr. Jill Biden watch as a Covid-19 Memorial is lighted at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, on Tuesday

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris (2nd L) with husband Douglas Emhoff and US President-elect Joe Biden (R) with wife Dr. Jill Biden watch as a Covid-19 Memorial is lighted at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, on Tuesday 

High security: National Guardsmen behind a security fence near the US Capitol, where the inauguration will take place on Wednesday two weeks after a mob stormed the building egged on by Trump

High security: National Guardsmen behind a security fence near the US Capitol, where the inauguration will take place on Wednesday two weeks after a mob stormed the building egged on by Trump 

Members of the National Guard patrol near the U.S. Capitol building ahead of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration

Members of the National Guard patrol near the U.S. Capitol building ahead of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration

Biden, pictured, will inherit the pardon power at noon Eastern time (5pm GMT) when he takes the oath of office

Biden, pictured, will inherit the pardon power at noon Eastern time (5pm GMT) when he takes the oath of office 

There was also no pardon for lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who was at the forefront of unsuccessful efforts to get the results of the 2020 presidential election overturned. 

Giuliani has not been charged with a crime, but investigators have been probing his activities in Ukraine. 

And one other name also not on the list was Joseph Maldonado-Passage, better known as Joe Exotic. He has served roughly two years of a 22-year sentence after he was convicted on 17 federal charges in 2019 for animal abuse and an attempted murder-for-hire plot on Carole Baskin.

His team had a limo ready from a Fort Worth prison to immediately get his hair done before seeing his husband Dillon Passage.   

Sources had already confirmed that Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, was not expected to get a pardon. 

The U.S. Justice Department in 2019 asked Britain to extradite Assange to the United States to face charges that he conspired to hack U.S. government computers and violated an espionage law.

A British judge ruled two weeks ago Assange should not be extradited to the United States, saying his mental health problems meant he would be at risk of suicide. 

Trump was expected to leave Washington on Wednesday morning, before Joe Biden inherits the presidency - and with it the pardon power - at noon Eastern time.  

A voice of nationalist, outsider conservatism, Bannon led the conservative Breitbart News before being tapped to serve as chief executive officer of Trump's campaign in its critical final months. They are pictured alongside Elon Musk in 2017

A voice of nationalist, outsider conservatism, Bannon led the conservative Breitbart News before being tapped to serve as chief executive officer of Trump's campaign in its critical final months. They are pictured alongside Elon Musk in 2017 

The two men had fallen out after Bannon was quoted calling Don Jr. 'treasonous' and Ivanka 'dumb as a brick'. Trump said then: 'Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency'. But they have since rekindled their relationship as Trump sought support for his unproven claims of voter fraud, an official familiar with the situation said

The two men had fallen out after Bannon was quoted calling Don Jr. 'treasonous' and Ivanka 'dumb as a brick'. Trump said then: 'Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency'. But they have since rekindled their relationship as Trump sought support for his unproven claims of voter fraud, an official familiar with the situation said

Trump pardons 73: President grants clemency to Steve Bannon who 'defrauded MAGA fans out of $1M', Lil Wayne, Kodak Black and dozens of convicted politicians Trump pardons 73: President grants clemency to Steve Bannon who 'defrauded MAGA fans out of $1M', Lil Wayne, Kodak Black and dozens of convicted politicians Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 09:44 Rating: 5

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.