Trump pardons dozens in final hours, including ex-aide Steve Bannon

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In the final hours of his presidency, Donald Trump has pardoned 73 people, including his former adviser Steve Bannon, who is facing fraud charges.

Another 70 people had sentences commuted, ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration at noon (17:00 GMT).

Rapper Lil Wayne received a pardon and there were commutations for rapper Kodak Black and former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

The president has not issued preemptive pardons for himself or family members.

He can still issue more pardons on Wednesday morning, as he remains president until Mr Biden takes the oath of office outside the US Capitol.

The inauguration ceremony will be tight on security following the recent breach of the Capitol by violent pro-Trump protesters. It will also be stripped of crowds due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Who are the key recipients of clemency?
A statement from the White House listed the 73 individuals who had received pardons and the 70 who had their sentences commuted.

Although many on the list are conventional examples of convicts whose cases have been championed by rights activists and supporters in the community, others maintain the president’s trend of focusing on allies.

Steve Bannon was a key strategist and adviser to President Trump during his 2016 campaign. He was charged in August last year with fraud over a fundraising campaign to build a wall on the US-Mexico border to stem illegal immigration, a key plank of Mr Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Prosecutors said Mr Bannon and three others defrauded hundreds of thousands of donors in connection with the “We Build the Wall” campaign, which pledged to use donations to build segments of the barrier and raised $25m (£18m). It was alleged Mr Bannon received more than $1m, at least some of which he used to cover personal expenses. He denied the claims.

As he was yet to stand trial his pardon is unusual, though certainly not unprecedented.

The White House statement said Mr Bannon had been “an important leader in the conservative movement and is known for his political acumen”. It said prosecutors had “pursued” him with charges “related to fraud stemming from his involvement in a political project”.

BBC

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