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Trump Pardons Steve Bannon, Jared Kushner’s Friend, Former GOP Congressmen, Lil Wayne and Many More


Late on Tuesday night, the last night in office for the 45th president of the United States, the White House announced that Donald Trump delivered 73 pardons and 70 commutations as expected. As has been the case in the prior two batches, a number of the wealthy and politically connected were on the receiving end of Trump’s clemency.

Much of the anticipation surrounding this final batch of pardons has focused on whether soon-to-be-former President Trump might try to pardon himself, his family members, Rudy Giuliani, or even Trump supporters who raided the Capitol on Jan. 6 and derailed the joint session of Congress where Vice President Mike Pence was presiding over the count of Joe Biden’s Electoral College votes. Others wondered whether there could be pardons of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, or Ross “Dread Pirate Roberts” Ulbricht.

Those names are not on the list, but here are some who are being granted clemency: former White House strategist Steve Bannon (accused of defrauding Trump supporters who donated to “We Build the Wall”); rapper Lil Wayne (Dwayne Michael Carter Jr.); rapper Kodak Black (Bill Kapri); former RNC Finance Chairman Elliott Broidy; accused stalker Ken Kurson (Jared Kushner’smedia savant” friend who was  briefly a speechwriter for Trump.); Paul Erickson (the former boyfriend of Russian agent Maria Butina; Kellyanne Conway supported the full pardon); former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (commutation supportedby Alveda King, Alice Johnson, Diamond and Silk, and Paula White); former Google engineer Anthony Levandowski, who pleaded guilty to stealing trade secrets (Peter Thiel, among others, supported the pardon); “Operation Varsity Blues” dad Robert ZangrilloCasey Urlacher (the brother of Trump supporting NFL legend Brian Urlacher); former GOP congressman Rick Renzi; and former GOP congressman RandallDuke” Cunningham.

President Trump also granted clemency to a number of non-violent drug offenders (many of them who have served sentences longer than the mandatory minimums of today), to incarcerated people who were described as “model inmates,” to individuals who have lived a “law-abiding life” since being released from prison, to casualties of the “war on drugs.”

For example, Trump commuted the sentences of Anthony DeJohn and Michael Pelletier, who were each convicted for conspiracy to distribute marijuana. The former served “more than 13 years of a life sentence,” while the latter is a 64-year-old man who has “served 12 years of a 30 year sentence.”

President Trump issued 10 other commutations in cases like these, including the case of Ferrell Damon Scott. Scott has been serving life in prison for a marijuana offense:

This commutation is supported by former Acting United States Attorney Sam Sheldon, who prosecuted his case and wrote that he “… strongly does not believe that [Mr. Scott] deserves a mandatory life sentence.” Ms. Alice Johnson, the CAN-DO Foundation, and numerous others also support clemency for Mr. Scott. Mr. Scott has served nearly 9 years of a life imprisonment sentence for possession with intent to distribute marijuana. Under today’s sentencing guidelines, it is likely that Mr. Scott would not have received such a harsh sentence.

The White House statement on Steve Bannon neither named anyone who supported the pardon, nor named the “political project” which led to the charges against him and others:

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.

Bannon’s co-defendants were not granted clemency.

A statement about Kurson, among other things, said the cyberstalking investigation “only began because Mr. Kurson was nominated to a role within the Trump Administration.”

Paul Erickson, the White House said, was convicted “based off the Russian collusion hoax.”

Lil Wayne’s pardon, the White House noted, was supported by NFL legend Deion Sanders.

“Deion Sanders, who also wrote in support of this pardon, calls Mr. Wayne ‘a provider for his family, a friend to many, a man of faith, a natural giver to the less fortunate, a waymaker, [and] a game changer,'” a statement said.

You can read the rest of the list here.

Many of these individuals join a long list of the well-heeled and politically connected who obtained clemency from President Trump over the last few months. That list includes but is not limited to: Paul Manafort, Charles Kushner, Roger Stone, Michael FlynnDuncan Hunter, Margaret Hunter, Chris Collins, George PapadopoulosAlex van der Zwaan, former Blackwater guards Nicholas Slatten, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin HeardJohn Tate and Jesse Benton, Mary McCarty, and Steve Stockman.

[Image via Drew Angerer/Getty Images]

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.