With hours left in office, Trump pardons Bannon and other allies.


President Trump has granted clemency to Stephen K. Bannon, the former White House chief strategist who was charged with defrauding political donors who supported building a border wall that Mr. Trump advocated, and Elliott Broidy, one of his top fund-raisers in 2016, among other people.

Mr. Bannon was indicted and arrested in August by federal prosecutors in Manhattan on charges related to the money raised to promote the construction of the wall long sought by Mr. Trump.

Mr. Broidy, a fund-raiser for the president, pleaded guilty last year to conspiring to violate foreign lobbying laws as part of a covert campaign to influence the administration on behalf of Chinese and Malaysian interests.

The pardon for Mr. Bannon was described as a pre-emptive move that would effectively wipe away the charges against him, should he be convicted. It was particularly remarkable because he had been charged with a crime but had yet to stand trial. An overwhelming majority of pardons and commutations granted by presidents have been for those who were convicted and sentenced.

The president made the decision on Mr. Bannon after a day of frantic efforts to sway his thinking, including from Mr. Bannon himself.

The White House had planned to release the list of those granted clemency earlier on Tuesday, but the debate over Mr. Bannon was part of the delay, officials said.

By late afternoon on Tuesday, advisers believed they had kept a pardon for Mr. Bannon from happening. But by around 9 p.m., Mr. Trump had changed his mind once again. Mr. Trump and Mr. Bannon spoke by phone during the day as the president was weighing the pardon, and Mr. Bannon’s allies tried to apply pressure to make it happen while his detractors pushed the president not to go ahead with it.

Mr. Bannon helped guide the president’s campaign to victory in 2016. He then had an extraordinarily messy split with Mr. Trump in August 2017, prompting him to leave the White House. But Mr. Bannon was supportive of Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, helping heal the rift between them.

Two rappers were among the 143 people granted pardons or commutations in the final hours of the Trump presidency. One was Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., known as Lil Wayne, who pleaded guilty in December to having illegally possessed a gold-plated .45-caliber Glock handgun and ammunition as a felon. The other was Bill Kapri, known as Kodak Black, who was sentenced in 2019 to nearly four years in prison after pleading guilty to lying on background paperwork while trying to buy guns.

In addition, Mr. Trump granted clemency to Kwame Kilpatrick, the former mayor of Detroit, who left office in 2008 after he was convicted of obstruction of justice and perjury.