President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly used his clemency authority as a political tool rather than an act of mercy, issued a final wave of pardons and commutations on his last night in office, delivering relief for a mix of beneficiaries that included former strategist Stephen Bannon, Republican Party and Trump fundraiser Elliott Broidy, and former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, found guilty in 2013 of corruption charges.
He granted pardons to 73 people and commuted the sentences of another 70 people, according to a news release from the White House.
Several high-profile figures received pardons, including:
Former Republican House member Rick Renzi of Arizona, convicted in 2013 of extortion, bribery, insurance fraud, money laundering, and racketeering. Renzi left prison in 2017.
Former Rep. Randall “Duke” Cunningham, R-Calif., who was released from prison in 2013 after serving eight years for charges of bribery, fraud, and tax evasion.
Broidy, who pleaded guilty to acting as an unregistered foreign agent and accepting money from Chinese and Malaysian interests to lobby the Trump administration.
Bannon, who is awaiting trial in Manhattan on federal fraud charges tied to a border wall fundraising effort.
Trump and Bannon have had an up-and-down relationship since the flamboyant adviser left the White House in 2017. At one point, Trump banished Bannon from his inner circle, claiming that he was a source of a critical book about the president, but Bannon still worked as a prominent backer of Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign.
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The list was released about 1 a.m. Wednesday, with about 11 hours left in Trump’s term.
Soon after, at 1:07 a.m. ET, Trump issued an executive order revoking an ethics rule he authorized in 2017. The move frees former aides from restrictions on lobbying the government.
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Trump intervened in the case of rapper Bill Kapri, also known as Kodak Black. The president commuted a 46-month sentence for lying on a background check related to a gun purchase.
Robert Zangrillo, a Miami real estate developer who was part of the recent college entrance scandal, received a full pardon. He was accused of conspiring with a college consultant to bribe officials at the University of Southern California to designate his daughter as a recruit to the crew team.
Paul Erickson, the former boyfriend of Russian operative Maria Butina, also received a pardon. He was sentenced last year to 84 months in prison on charges of wire fraud and money laundering.
Among the white-collar offenders, Trump commuted the sentence of Sholam Weiss, convicted in a $450 million mortgage and insurance fraud scheme. He had been sentenced to 835 years after jumping bail.
Weiss was captured in Austria in 2000. His case was supported by Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz and Trump attorney Jay Sekulow. Weiss had been scheduled for release in 2738.
The list is also notable for who isn’t on it: The president himself, his family and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.
In the final weeks of his presidency, some had speculated Trump would issue pre-emptive clemency to shield his family and lawyer from future legal vulnerability. Federal authorities have been investigating Giuliani and his business dealings in Ukraine.
Also not on the list were Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder indicted in 2019 on espionage charges, and Edward Snowden, the fugitive American who leaked secret files revealing vast surveillance operations carried out by the U.S. National Security Agency.
Lawmakers had asked Trump not to pardon Assange and Snowden.
Trump talked to aides about preemptive pardons for Republican lawmakers and others involved in planning the Jan. 6 protests who might face legal problems, an aide said. White House officials talked Trump out of granting pardons connected to the riots.
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Last-minute pardons, including disputed ones, are something of a tradition for outgoing presidents.
As he left office in 2001, President Bill Clinton pardoned fugitive financier Marc Rich in a move some analysts tied to financial contributions.
In late 1992, his term soon to expire, President George H.W. Bush pardoned aides involved in the Iran-Contra scandal.
Trump’s previous pardons: Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, others
Before the last round of pardons, Trump has granted clemency to more than 90 people during his term in office, including allies and former aides involved in the investigation of Russian election interference during the 2016 election.
That group includes Paul Manafort, a Trump campaign manager in 2016 who was convicted of defrauding banks; George Papadopoulos, a former campaign aide who admitted lying to the FBI; and Michael Flynn, a retired Army general who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian officials.
Trump also commuted the sentence of longtime political adviser Roger Stone just days before he was set to report to prison after he was convicted of lying to Congress and obstructing the Russia investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Among other pardons: Charles Kushner, the father of presidential son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner. The elder Kushner has been convicted of preparing false tax returns and witness retaliation.
Pardons have also been granted to two former Republican members of Congress who were early supporters of Trump’s presidential bid: Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., who had pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds; and Chris Collins, R-N.Y., who had pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to commit securities fraud.
In many cases, Trump did not work with the pardons office at the Department of Justice, but took action on his own based on requests by lobbyists to him and his top aides.
Legal analysts said Trump turned the presidential pardon power into a personal project designed to reward friends and political supporters.