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Donald Trump pardons Steve Bannon: President grants clemency to 143 people including White House strategist who 'defrauded MAGA fans out of $25M', Lil Wayne, Kodak Black and convicted politicians

 


As President Trump bowed out of the Oval office today, there was a frenzy of clemency issued on behalves of close aides and prominent politicians and socialites.

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, according to Daily Mail.

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.

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. 

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