US President Donald Trump has granted a pardon to his disgraced former aide Steve Bannon as part of a wave of pardons and commutations during his final hours in office, White House officials told the Reuters news agency and New York Times newspaper.
Trump was not expected to pardon himself, members of his family or lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who was at the forefront of unsuccessful efforts to get the results of the 2020 presidential election overturned.
The outgoing president has confirmed pardons for the rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black, both prosecuted on weapons charges, as well as the former Mayor of Detroit Kwame Kilpatrick, who was serving a 28-year prison term on corruption charges, a senior administration official said.
Trump is expected to pardon some 100 people before Joe Biden is sworn in as the next president of the United States on January 20. The US Constitution awards the president the authority to issue “reprieves and pardons for offences against the United States”.
Bannon, who was a key adviser in Trump’s 2016 presidential run, was charged last year with swindling Trump supporters over an effort to raise private funds to build the president’s wall on the US-Mexico border. He has pleaded not guilty.
White House officials had advised Trump against pardoning Bannon. The two men have lately rekindled their relationship as Trump sought support for his unproven claims of voter fraud, an official familiar with the situation said.
Bannon, 67, is the latest prominent political ally to receive clemency from Trump, who has often used the powers of the executive branch to reward loyalists and punish his enemies.
Trump previously pardoned former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn for lying to the FBI about his conversation with the former Russian ambassador, and he commuted the prison term for Roger Stone, who was convicted of lying to Congress during its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
In December, he also pardoned four Blackwater guards who had been convicted over a 2007 massacre in Iraq.