President Trump pardons ex-strategist Steve Bannon, dozens of others

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FILE - In this Aug. 20, 2020, file photo, President Donald Trump's former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, speaks with reporters in New York after pleading not guilty to charges that he ripped off donors to an online fundraising scheme to build a southern border wall. Trump is expected to pardon Bannon, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, as part of a flurry of last-minute clemency action that appears to be still in flux in the last hours of his presidency. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez, File)

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump pardoned former chief strategist Steve Bannon in the final hours of his White House term as part of a flurry of clemency action that benefited more than 140 people, including rap performers, ex-members of Congress and other allies of him and his family.

The last-minute clemency, announced after midnight on Wednesday, follows separate waves of pardons over the past month for Trump associates convicted in the FBI’s Russia investigation as well as for the father of his son-in-law.

Taken together, the actions underscore the president’s willingness, all the way through his four years in the White House, to flex his constitutional powers in ways that defy convention and explicitly aid his friends and supporters.

Trump did not pardon himself, despite speculation that he would, in the face of potential federal investigations. He had previously asserted that he had the authority to do so. He also did not pardon his children or his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

The final list was full of more conventional candidates whose cases had been championed by criminal justice activists. One man who has spent nearly 24 years in prison on drug and weapons charges but had shown exemplary behavior behind bars had his sentence commuted. So did a former Marine sentenced in 2000 in connection with a cocaine conviction.

Even so, the names of prominent Trump allies nonetheless stood out.

One pardon recipients was Elliott Broidy, a prominent Republican fundraiser who pleaded guilty last fall in a scheme to lobby the Trump administration to drop an investigation into the looting of a Malaysian wealth fund. Another was Ken Kurson, a friend of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner who was charged last October with cyberstalking during a heated divorce.

Hours later, the White House announced one last pardon, for Al Pirro, the ex-husband of Trump ally Jeanine Pirro, a Fox News Channel host. Al Pirro had been convicted in 2000 of tax charges.