Former President Donald Trump issued more than 140 pardons and commutations in his final hours in office, including a full pardon for former top strategist Steve Bannon, The New York Times reports.
Trump was on the fence about whether to pardon Bannon until late Tuesday night. Bannon was the architect of Trump’s 2016 campaign and his Muslim ban, though he was ousted after trashing Trump, Jared Kushner, and others in Michael Wolff’s infamous “Fire and Fury” book.
Bannon’s pardon is unusual since he has not been convicted. He is awaiting trial on charges that he defrauded nearly $1 million from donors to a private border wall project that was promoted by Donald Trump Jr.
Trump also pardoned Elliott Broidy, who raised millions for Trump’s campaign and served as a top fundraiser for the Republican National Committee before pleading guilty to violating lobbying laws.
“Even Nixon didn’t pardon his cronies on the way out,” said Noah Bookbinder, executive director of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “Amazingly, in his final 24 hours in office, Donald Trump found one more way to fail to live up to the ethical standard of Richard Nixon.”
Trump pardons corrupt ex-lawmakers:
Trump pardoned former California Rep. Duke Cunningham, who pleaded guilty to accepting $2.4 million in bribes from defense contractors.
He also pardoned former Arizona Rep. Rick Renzi, was sentenced to three years in prison for bribery.
He also pardoned former North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI after he was accused in a bribery scheme.
Trump also commuted the sentence of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who was serving a 28-year sentence for dozens of corruption charges.
Many allies scored pardons for friends:
Trump relied mostly on recommendations from political allies for his pardons, according to a White House statement.
Other pardons included the husband of Fox News host Jeanine Pirro, rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black, and the brother of former NFL star Brian Urlacher.
He pardoned multiple people whose pardons were lobbied for by former Trump lawyer John Dowd, former top aide Kellyanne Conway, Senator Lindsey Graham, and others.
He was ultimately dissuaded from pardoning himself, his family members, and attorney Rudy Giuliani.
He also did not pardon WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange or NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.