Ayyeee… What’s Goodie Everyone. So I got some tea and it involves Donald Trump and pardons.
Donald Trump granted clemency to 143 people on Tuesday using a final act of presidential power to extend mercy to many.
Those who were pardoned or who had their sentences commuted on Trump’s final full day in office were the rapper Lil Wayne and former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who has been serving a 28 year prison on corruption charges. Trump also granted clemency to Casey Urlacher, brother of former NFL star Brian Urlacher, who pleaded not guilty in March to charges that he helped run an illegal offshore gambling ring.White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon was also granted clemency.
Some people inside the White House believed that Bannon would not get a pardon, but Trump continue to weigh the matter balancing Bannon’s previous help to him, and potential to help him in the future, versus what he viewed as disloyal behavior at times. Bannon, and three others were accused last year of making fraudulent representations as they solicited more than $25 million in donations for a fundraising campaign called “We Build the Wall,” much of it from Trump’s supporters. He had served as chief executive of Trump’s 2016 campaign and then White House chief strategist until he was ousted in August 2017 amid clashes with other White House aides. In recent months, Bannon had reestablished ties with Trump, vocally supporting his reelection and attempts to overturn the November results and speaking to him in recent weeks according to white house aides.
On Tuesday, Trump also granted a pardon to GOP megadonor Elliott Broidy, 64, who pleaded guilty in October to acting as an unregistered foreign agent and lobbying the Trump administration on behalf of Malaysian and Chinese interests. A Los Angeles based investor, Broidy helped raise millions for Trump’s campaign before serving as the Republican National Committee’s national deputy finance chairman.
Trump ultimately decided against a series of other controversial pardons that he had also been considering, including for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, ex NSA contractor Edward Snowden and the president’s own personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, who has not been charged with a crime but whose consulting business has come under scrutiny as part of an investigation by federal prosecutors in Manhattan.
Trump had also considered pardoning Sheldon Silver, the powerful former Democratic speaker of the New York State Assembly convicted of corruption who held deep ties to the real estate community. But the final list did not have his name.
Trump also decided against a pardon for the star of the Netflix reality show “Tiger King,” known as “Joe Exotic,” despite such optimism from the zookeeper’s camp that they stationed a stretch limo near the prison where he is incarcerated to squire him home if his pardon were granted.
Trump had for weeks queried aides, friends and others associates about whether they’d like a pardon, reasoning that his political enemies are likely to investigate anyone associated with his administration after he leaves office.