President Donald Trump speaks at a Make America Great Again rally at the Civic Center in Charleston, West Virginia.
Leah Millis | Reuters
President Donald Trump issued dozens of pardons on his last night in the White House, including one to his former campaign chief and ex-White House advisor Steve Bannon.
Others who received pardons from Trump included the major Republican fundraiser Eliott Broidy, who pleaded guilty last fall to acting as an unregistered foreign agent, ex-Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who has been serving a 28-year prison sentence for fraud charges, and the rapper Lil Wayne, who pleaded guilty to a weapons charge last month.
Bannon, former head of the conservative news site Breitbart, was arrested last year with several co-defendants on federal charges in New York, but had yet to stand trial in that case, where he was free on a $5 million bond.
He and the other defendants are accused of defrauding donors to a nonprofit group that ostensibly planned to use the money to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, a political obsession of Trump and many of his supporters.
Another pardon recepient was Anthony Levandowski, a former engingeer for Google’s self-driving car unit, who last August was sentenced to 18 months in prison for stealing more than 14,000 Google files before leaving the company to join Uber’s robocar effort.
The sentencing judge in Levandowski’s case called it the “biggest trade secret crime I have ever seen.”
Kenneth Kurson, a confidante of Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, also received a pardon. Kurson, who once was editor of a Kushner owned newspaper in New York, was charged last year in Brooklyn federal court with cyberstalking and harassing three people, including a former friend whom he blamed for the break-up of his marriage.
In all, Trump granted pardons to 73 people convicted of federal crimes, and commuted the criminal sentences of 70 other people, in what are likely to be his last acts of executive clemency as president.
Trump did not issue a pardon to himself, or to any of his adult children, despite speculation he would do so despite the lack of any pending federal criminal charges against any of them.
The pardons were the third big groups of grants of executive clemency issued by Trump since his election loss in November to Joe Biden, who is set to be inaugurated as president middday Wednesday.
In December, Trump pardoned a rogue’s gallery of felons connected to him, including his former campaign manager Paul Manafort, Republican political operative and longtime Trump friend Roger Stone, his daughter Ivanka’s father-in-law Charles Kushner, and former campaign advisor George Papadopoulos.
Others granted pardons by Trump last month were four former Blackwater USA guards convicted of killing 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians in 2007, disgraced ex-GOP congressmen Duncan Hunter and Chris Collins, and Philips Esformes, a Florida health-care facility owner convicted of what prosecutors have said was the biggest health-care fraud ever charged by the Department of Justice.
Presidential pardons only apply to convictions for federal crimes. Presidents do not have the power to pardon people for state crimes.
Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, currently is the target of a criminal investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s office.
The probe, which originally was focused on how the company accounted for hush money payments paid to two women who claim they had sex with Trump — who denies their allegations — since has expand to include questions of how the Trump Organization valued real estate assets.
This is breaking news. Check back for updates.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS GREAT SOURCE