In his final hours as president, Donald Trump doled out pardons and commutations to dozens of people, including supporters, political figures, rappers and defendants in high-profile criminal cases.
Trump named most of the recipients on a list released by the White House early Wednesday, which included 73 pardons and 70 commutations. But the eleventh-hour orders continued to make news until almost midday, when President Joe Biden took the oath of office.
The announcements came nearly a month after Trump pardoned, among others, Charles Kushner, the father of his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner; Paul Manafort, his 2016 campaign chairman; and Roger Stone, his longtime informal adviser and friend whose sentence the president had commuted in July.
Trump did not include himself on the list of pardons, despite earlier suggestions that he might. Nor did he include preemptive pardons for his three oldest children, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump, whom he had considered pardoning even though they had not been charged with wrongdoing. Also absent from the list were his son-in-law and Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor and Trump’s personal lawyer.
The Supreme Court has ruled that the Constitution gives presidents unlimited authority to grant pardons, which excuse or forgive a federal crime. A commutation, by contrast, makes a punishment milder without wiping out the underlying conviction.
Here are some of the pardons and commutations on the list:
Pardon: Jan. 19, 2021
Bannon, who was Trump’s former chief strategist and an architect of his 2016 presidential campaign, was charged in August with defrauding contributors to a privately funded effort to build Trump’s wall along the Mexican border.
Bannon, working with a wounded Air Force veteran and a Florida venture capitalist, conspired to cheat hundreds of thousands of donors by falsely promising that their money had been set aside for new sections of wall, according to court documents.
The pardon of Bannon was notable 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 convicted and sentenced.
Pardon: Jan. 19, 2021
Broidy, a California businessman, was a leading fundraiser for Trump’s 2016 campaign and inauguration before being tapped as deputy finance chairman for the Republican National Committee. He pleaded guilty in October to conspiring to violate foreign lobbying laws as part of a covert campaign to influence the Trump administration on behalf of Chinese and Malaysian interests.
Broidy admitted that he had accepted $9 million from Jho Low, a Malaysian financier, some of which was then paid to an associate, to push the Trump administration for the extradition of a Chinese dissident and to drop a case related to an embezzlement scheme from a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund that the United States has accused Low of engineering.
Pardon: Jan. 19, 2021
Levandowski, a Silicon Valley star and pioneer of self-driving car technology, was sentenced in August to 18 months in prison for stealing self-driving car trade secrets from Google. At the time of the sentencing, a federal judge ordered that Levandowski would not be required to serve his sentence until the coronavirus pandemic subsided.
He also agreed to pay more than $756,000 to Waymo, a self-driving business spun out of Google, as restitution.
Pardons and Commutation: Jan. 13 and Jan. 19, 2021
Kwame Kilpatrick, Robert ‘Robin’ Hayes, Rick Renzi and Randall ‘Duke’ Cunningham
Several former political figures were among those granted clemency by Trump.
Kilpatrick, a former mayor of Detroit, had his sentence commuted. In 2013, he was sentenced to 28 years in prison after being convicted of two dozen counts, including racketeering and extortion.
Hayes, the former chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party, received a full pardon after being accused in 2019 of bribery and conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud, along with several counts of making false statements. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to one year of probation.
Renzi, a former representative for Arizona, was pardoned. In 2013, he was sentenced to 36 months in prison in association with a bribery scheme involving an Arizona land swap deal.
Cunningham, a former representative for California, received a conditional pardon. In 2006, he was sentenced to eight years and four months in prison for taking $2.4 million in bribes from military contractors in return for smoothing the way for government contracts.
Pardon: Jan. 19, 2021
In December, rapper Lil Wayne, born Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., pleaded guilty to having illegally carried a gold-plated .45-caliber Glock handgun and ammunition as a felon while traveling on a private jet in 2019.
Because of a previous gun conviction, he faced up to 10 years in prison. He received a full pardon.
In October, Lil Wayne became the latest in a line of rappers to align themselves, however briefly, with Trump’s reelection campaign, only to face criticism from fans and fellow artists.
Commutation: Jan. 19, 2021
Rapper Kodak Black, whose legal name is Bill Kapri (though he was born Dieuson Octave), was granted a commutation. In 2019, he was sentenced to nearly four years in prison for lying on background paperwork while attempting to buy guns. He had served nearly half of that time.
In addition to Lil Wayne and Kodak Black, two other figures related to the world of hip-hop were also granted clemency by Trump. Desiree Perez, the chief executive officer of Roc Nation, the media company started by rapper Jay-Z, was given a full pardon after being convicted in a drug conspiracy case in the 1990s. And Michael Harris, known as Harry-O, 59, a founder and early financial backer of Death Row Records, received a commuted sentence. He had served 30 years of a 25-year-to-life sentence for conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.
Pardons and Commutation: Jan. 19 and Jan. 20, 2021
Ken Kurson, Helly Nahmad, Albert J. Pirro Jr. and Sholam Weiss
Trump also granted clemency to men who had been prominent in business, art and media circles in his hometown, New York City.
Kurson, a friend and associate of Jared Kushner — who once appointed him editor-in-chief of The New York Observer — was one of them. Harassment allegations against Kurson surfaced in 2018 while he was under consideration for a seat on the board of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and he was arrested late last year on cyberstalking charges. Marc L. Mukasey, Kurson’s defense lawyer, said that he had no role in Kurson’s pardon application, and that his client had planned to plead not guilty.
Trump also pardoned one of New York’s best-known art dealers, Hillel Nahmad, known as Helly, a member of a wealthy, influential family of art collectors. He had served five months in federal prison in 2014 after pleading guilty to a charge that he had led a sports gambling ring, which investigators said had ties to Russian American organized crime figures.
In the hour before his term expired, Trump also pardoned Pirro, an administration official said. Pirro, a Republican businessman and the ex-husband of Jeanine Pirro, the Fox News host, was convicted in 2000 of conspiracy and tax evasion and sentenced to 29 months in a federal prison.
And Trump commuted the sentence of Sholam Weiss, the New York businessman who was sentenced in 2000 to more than 800 years in prison — which was believed to be the longest federal prison term ever imposed — for racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering related to a huge insurance fraud scheme.
OTHER PARDONS AND COMMUTATIONS
Some of the others who received clemency in the final days of Trump’s term:
— Dr. Salomon E. Melgen, 66, a major Democratic donor and eye doctor who ran a series of clinics in Florida that fraudulently told Medicare patients that they had eye diseases and then performed medically unnecessary tests and procedures, falsely billing the federal government at least $42 million, according to prosecutors. His remaining prison sentence was commuted.
— William T. Walters, a wealthy sports gambler, had his sentence commuted. A jury convicted Walters in 2017 on charges related to his role in an insider-trading scheme, and he was sentenced to five years in prison. Walters hired Trump’s former personal lawyer John Dowd in 2018, after he stopped representing Trump, The New York Times reported this week. Dowd bragged to Walters and others that he could help them receive a pardon because of his close relationship with the president.
— Paul Erickson, the former boyfriend of Russian operative Maria Butina, who was briefly pulled into the investigation of Trump by Robert Mueller, the special counsel. Erickson was convicted in July of wire fraud and money laundering and sentenced to 84 months in prison on charges that related to his work in 2017 on a business deal in the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota.
— George Gilmore, a New Jersey Republican power broker, who was convicted in January 2020 of failure to file payroll taxes for employees and making a false statement on a loan application, was also given a full pardon.
— Eliyahu Weinstein, who was sentenced to more than 20 years in prison in 2014 for a real estate Ponzi scheme that prosecutors said caused $200 million in losses, had his remaining jail sentence commuted.
— Robert Zangrillo, a Miami real estate developer who was charged with conspiring with a college consultant to bribe athletic officials at the University of Southern California to designate his daughter as a recruit to the crew team, received a pardon. Dozens of parents were charged in the case; Zangrillo had pleaded not guilty and was set to stand trial on multiple fraud and conspiracy charges in September. His lawyer declined to comment Wednesday.
— Aviem Sella, a former Israeli Air Force officer who was indicted by the United States in 1987 on espionage charges that he recruited convicted spy Jonathan Jay Pollard to collect U.S. military secrets for Israel. But Israel never agreed to extradite him to the United States, and he has now been pardoned.
Here are pardons and commutations issued earlier in Trump’s term:
Pardon: Dec. 23, 2020
Manafort, 71, had been sentenced in 2019 to 7 1/2 years in prison for his role in a decadelong, multimillion-dollar financial fraud scheme for his work in the former Soviet Union. He was released early from prison in May as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and given home confinement. Trump had repeatedly expressed sympathy for Manafort, describing him as a brave man who had been mistreated by the special counsel’s office.
Pardon: Dec. 23, 2020; Commutation: July 10, 2020
Stone, a longtime friend and adviser of Trump, was sentenced in February 2020 to more than three years in prison in a politically fraught case that put the president at odds with his attorney general. Stone was convicted of seven felony charges, including lying under oath to a congressional committee and threatening a witness whose testimony would have exposed those lies.
Trump commuted Stone’s sentence in July and then pardoned him in December. A White House statement said that Stone had been “treated very unfairly” and added that “pardoning him will help to right the injustices he faced at the hands of the Mueller investigation.”
Pardon: Dec. 23, 2020
Kushner, 66, the father-in-law of the president’s older daughter, Ivanka Trump, pleaded guilty in 2004 to 16 counts of tax evasion, a single count of retaliating against a federal witness and one of lying to the Federal Election Commission. He served two years in prison before being released in 2006.
Kushner’s prison sentence was a searing event in his family’s life.
The witness he was accused of retaliating against was his brother-in-law, whose wife, Kushner’s sister, was cooperating with federal officials in a campaign finance investigation into Kushner. Kushner was accused of videotaping his brother-in-law with a prostitute and then sending it to his sister.
The case was prosecuted by then-U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, a longtime Trump friend who went on to become governor of New Jersey.
Pardon: Dec. 22, 2020
George Papadopoulos and Alex van der Zwaan
Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser to Trump’s 2016 campaign, pleaded guilty in 2017 to making false statements to federal officials as part of the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Papadopoulos served 12 days in jail for lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian intermediaries during the 2016 presidential race. He later published a book portraying himself as a victim of a “deep state” plot to “bring down President Trump.”
Also pardoned was van der Zwaan, a lawyer who was sentenced in April 2018 to 30 days in prison for lying to investigators for the special counsel’s office who were investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Pardon: Dec. 22, 2020
Duncan Hunter, Chris Collins and Steve Stockman
Three former Republican members of Congress were pardoned by Trump: Hunter of California, Collins of New York and Stockman of Texas.
Hunter was set to begin serving an 11-month sentence in January. He pleaded guilty in 2019 to one charge of misusing campaign funds. Prosecutors said he had funneled more than $150,000 from his campaign coffers to pay for a lavish lifestyle.
On Dec. 23, Trump pardoned Margaret Hunter, Duncan Hunter’s estranged wife, who had also pleaded guilty to charges of misusing campaign funds for personal expenses.
Collins, an early endorser of Trump, is serving a 26-month sentence after pleading guilty in 2019 to charges of making false statements to the FBI and to conspiring to commit securities fraud. He admitted passing private information about an Australian drug company to his son to help him avoid financial losses.
Stockman was convicted in 2018 on charges of fraud and money laundering and was serving a 10-year sentence. He was charged with stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars meant for charity and using it to pay for personal expenses and his political campaigns.
Pardon: Nov. 25, 2020
Flynn, a former national security adviser who twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with a Russian diplomat, and whose prosecution Attorney General William Barr tried to shut down, was the only White House official to be convicted as part of the Trump-Russia investigation.
In a statement about Flynn’s pardon, White House officials said that he never should have been prosecuted and that the president’s action had finally brought “to an end the relentless, partisan pursuit of an innocent man.”
Pardon: Dec. 22, 2020
Trump issued full pardons to Slatton and three other former U.S. service members who were convicted on charges related to the killing of Iraqi civilians while they were working as security contractors for Blackwater, a private company, in 2007.
Slatten and the others — Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard — were sentenced for their role in the killing of 17 Iraqi civilians in Nisour Square in Baghdad. The massacre that left one of the most lasting stains of the war on the United States. Among the dead were two boys, 8 and 11.
Slatten had been sentenced to life in prison after the Justice Department had gone to great lengths to prosecute him.
Pardon: Aug. 25, 2017
Arpaio, an anti-immigration crusader who enjoyed calling himself “America’s toughest sheriff,” was the first pardon of Trump’s presidency.
Once one of the most popular — and divisive — figures in Arizona, Arpaio was elected sheriff of Maricopa County five times before he was ultimately charged with criminal contempt for defying a court order to stop detaining people solely on the suspicion that they were immigrants in the country illegally. Arpaio was pardoned less than a month after he was found guilty.
Pardon: May 15, 2019
Black, a former press baron and friend of Trump’s, was granted a full pardon 12 years after his sentencing for fraud and obstruction of justice.
Black, who once owned the Chicago Sun-Times, The Jerusalem Post and The Daily Telegraph of London, among other newspapers, was convicted of fraud in 2007 with three other former executives of Hollinger International.
Black, who was released from prison in 2012, is the author of several pro-Trump opinion articles as well as a flattering book, “Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other.”
Commutation: Feb. 18, 2020
Former Gov. Blagojevich of Illinois was sentenced in 2011 to 14 years in prison for trying to sell or trade to the highest bidder the Senate seat that Barack Obama vacated after he was elected president.
In 2010, while Blagojevich was awaiting trial, he was a contestant on “The Celebrity Apprentice,” a reality TV series hosted by Trump. Blagojevich was fired at the end of that season’s fourth episode.
Pardon: May 31, 2018
D’Souza received a presidential pardon after pleading guilty to making illegal campaign contributions in 2014. D’Souza, a filmmaker and author whose subjects often dabble in conspiracy theories, had long blamed his conviction on his political opposition to Obama.
In issuing his pardon, Trump said that D’Souza had been “treated very unfairly by our government,” echoing a claim the commentator has often made himself.
Pardon: Feb. 18, 2020
Edward DeBartolo Jr.
Edward DeBartolo Jr., a former owner of the San Francisco 49ers, pleaded guilty in 1998 to concealing an extortion plot. DeBartolo was prosecuted after he gave Edwin Edwards, the influential former governor of Louisiana, $400,000 to secure a riverboat gambling license for his gambling consortium.
Although DeBartolo avoided prison, he was fined $1 million and was suspended for a year by the NFL.
Commutation: June 6, 2018; Pardon: Aug. 28, 2019
Alice Marie Johnson
Johnson was serving life in a federal prison for a nonviolent drug conviction before her case was brought to Trump’s attention by reality television star Kim Kardashian West.
The president’s decision to commute her sentence freed Johnson, who had been locked up in Alabama since 1996 on charges related to cocaine distribution and money laundering. Trump later pardoned Johnson.
Jack Johnson, Susan B. Anthony, Zay Jeffries
Trump has issued posthumous pardons to three historical figures.
Johnson, the first Black heavyweight boxing champion, was tarnished by a racially tainted criminal conviction in 1913 — for transporting a white woman across state lines — that haunted him well after his death in 1946. Trump pardoned him on May 24, 2018.
Anthony, the women’s suffragist, was arrested in Rochester, New York, in 1872 for voting illegally and was fined $100. Trump pardoned her on Aug. 18, the 100th anniversary of the ratification of 19th Amendment, which extended voting rights to women.
Jeffries, a metal scientist whose contributions to the Manhattan Project and whose development of armor-piercing artillery shells helped the Allies win World War II, was granted a posthumous pardon Oct. 10, 2019. Jeffries was found guilty in 1948 of an antitrust violation related to his work and was fined $2,500.
Pardon: Feb. 18, 2020
Ten years ago, Kerik, a former New York City police commissioner, was sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to eight felony charges, including tax fraud and lying to White House officials.
Trump said he heard from more than a dozen people about pardoning Kerik, including Giuliani. Kerik’s rise to prominence dates to the 1993 campaign for mayor in New York City, when he served as Giuliani’s bodyguard and chauffeur. After the pardon was announced, Kerik expressed his gratitude to Trump on Twitter.
“With the exception of the birth of my children,” he wrote, “today is one of the greatest days in my life.”
Pardon: April 13, 2018
I. Lewis Libby Jr., known as Scooter, was Vice President Dick Cheney’s top adviser before Libby was convicted in 2007 of four felony counts, including perjury and obstruction of justice, in connection with the disclosure of the identity of a CIA officer, Valerie Plame.
Libby had maintained his innocence for years, and his portrayal as a victim of an unfair prosecution ultimately found favor with Trump.
Pardon: Nov. 15, 2019
Clint Lorance, Maj. Mathew L. Golsteyn, Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher
Trump’s decision to clear three members of the armed services who had been accused or convicted of war crimes signaled that the president intended to use his power as the ultimate arbiter of military justice.
He ordered full pardons of Lorance, a former Army lieutenant who was serving a 19-year sentence for the murder of two civilians, and Golsteyn, an Army Special Forces officer who was facing murder charges for killing an unarmed Afghan he believed was a Taliban bomb-maker.
The president also reversed the demotion of Gallagher, a Navy SEAL who had been acquitted of murder charges but convicted of a lesser offense in a high-profile war crimes case.
All three had been championed by prominent conservatives who had portrayed them as war heroes unfairly prosecuted for actions taken in the heat and confusion of battle.
Pardon: Feb. 18, 2020
Milken was the billionaire “junk bond king” and a well-known financier on Wall Street in the 1980s. In 1990, he pleaded guilty to securities fraud and conspiracy charges and was sentenced to 10 years in prison, although his sentence was later reduced to two. He also agreed to pay $600 million in fines and penalties.
Milken did not have a pardon or commutation application pending at the Justice Department’s pardons office, meaning that the president made that decision entirely without official department input. Among those arguing for Milken to be pardoned was Giuliani, who as the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York prosecuted Milken.
Pardon: July 10, 2018
Dwight Hammond and Steven Hammond
Dwight Hammond and his son, Steven Hammond, were Oregon cattle ranchers who had been serving five-year sentences for arson on federal land. Their cases inspired an anti-government group’s weekslong standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon in 2016 and brought widespread attention to anger over federal land management in the Western United States.
The occupation, led by the Bundy family, drew militia members who commandeered government buildings and vehicles in tactical gear and long guns, promising to defend the family. During his campaign, Trump played to that sense of Western grievance, and the pardon of the Hammonds was a signal to conservatives that he was sympathetic.
Pardon: Feb. 18, 2020
Safavian, the top federal procurement official under President George W. Bush, was sentenced in 2009 to a year in prison for covering up his ties to Jack Abramoff, the disgraced lobbyist whose corruption became a symbol of the excesses of Washington influence peddling. Safavian was convicted of obstruction of justice and making false statements.
Pardon: Feb. 18, 2020
Stanton — an author, television personality and motivational speaker — served six months of home confinement in 2007 for her role in a stolen-vehicle ring. Her book “Life of a Real Housewife” explores her difficult upbringing and her encounters with reality TV stars.
Before her pardon, she gave interviews in which she declared her support for Trump. In announcing her pardon, the White House credited her with working “tirelessly to improve reentry outcomes for people returning to their communities upon release from prison.”