United States President Donald Trump on Wednesday pardoned 73 people, including his former White House aide Steve Bannon. The president, however, did not preemptively pardon himself, his family or his former lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
“President Donald J Trump granted pardons to 73 individuals and commuted the sentences of an additional 70 individuals,” the White House said in a statement.
Bannon was charged with fraud in August last year for his involvement in the “We Build the Wall” campaign, an online fundraising effort to erect a barrier along the Mexican border. The crowdfunding campaign had collected more than $25 million, the US Department of Justice said in a statement.
Daniel R Alonso, a former prosecutor, said that Bannon can still be charged in a state court in New York, according to Reuters. Bannon’s pardon would not work there, said Alonso.
The president had been considering pardoning himself during conversations with White House staff after he had lost the election, according to The Financial Times. Several experts had also wondered if he would pardon himself after he was impeached over the January 6 riots at the US Capitol building.
Although constitutional experts have argued that Trump cannot pardon himself, the theory has never been tried in court. Advisers had cautioned Trump against offering clemency to himself as it would seem that he was guilty of something, an unidentified official told Reuters.
Trump also pardoned rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black, who were prosecuted on federal weapons offenses. Lil Wayne, who was born as Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., had pleaded guilty in federal court in December to illegally possessing a firearm and was facing up to 10 years in prison. Kodak Black, 23, whose real name is Bill Kahan Kapri, was sentenced to a federal prison for making a false statement to buy a firearm.
Trump also pardoned Robin Hayes, a North Carolina political donor convicted of trying to bribe officials, and William Walters, a sports gambler sentenced for insider trading. Aviem Sella, an Israeli air force officer who was accused of being a spy, was also given clemency.
The president also pardoned former Google engineer Anthony Levandowski who was sentenced for stealing a trade secret on self-driving cars. Other prominent names in the pardon list includes Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy, former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and lawyer Paul Erickson.
The outgoing president issuing eleventh-hour pardons is in line with a long-standing tradition of exercising clemency powers at the last minute, according to CNN. The current list has many of Trump’s allies, many of whom were charged with corruption and lying.
The president does not have to give a reason for issuing a pardon and other branches of the government cannot review it. However, pardon power is not absolute as it only applies to federal crimes.
Trump leaves his office on Wednesday when President-elect Joe Biden takes over.