Total of 143 people pardoned or had their sentences commuted
By Ricky Browne
Outgoing US President Donald Trump pardoned 143 people on his last day in office early on Wednesday morning, with two of the biggest names being African-American rap star Lil Wayne, and right wing political strategist Steve Bannon.
He did not, as many people feared, pardon himself. Nor did he pardon any of his family members.
Technically, President Trump pardoned 73 individuals and commuted the sentences of an additional 70 individuals in one of his final acts.
The White House gave a short blurb on each recipient of the presidential pardon, who they were, what they did, and why they were being pardoned.
On the controversial figure of Steve Bannon, the White House said:
“President Trump granted a full pardon to Stephen Bannon. Prosecutors pursued Mr. Bannon with charges related to fraud stemming from his involvement in a political project. Mr. Bannon has been an important leader in the conservative movement and is known for his political acumen.”
Bannon, who worked in the Trump White House in the first year, and is like the American answer to Dominic Cummings, is a widely despised-figure. He was arrested on August 20 while cruising on a luxury yacht in the waters off of Connecticut. He was said to have taken about US$1 million from an online fundraiser called We Build the Wall – money which should have gone towards the expansion of the border wall with Mexico. – to use for his own expenses.
But more shocking to some was Trump’s pardon for Lil Wayne, who’s proper name is Dwayne Michael Carter Jr.
This is what the White House had to say about that:
“President Trump granted a full pardon to Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., also known as “Lil Wayne.” Mr. Carter pled guilty to possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon, owing to a conviction over 10 years ago. Brett Berish of Sovereign Brands, who supports a pardon for Mr. Carter, describes him as “trustworthy, kind-hearted and generous.” Mr. Carter has exhibited this generosity through commitment to a variety of charities, including donations to research hospitals and a host of foodbanks. Deion Sanders, who also wrote in support of this pardon, calls Mr. Wayne “a provider for his family, a friend to many, a man of faith, a natural giver to the less fortunate, a waymaker, [and] a game changer.”
Lil Wayne was facing a possible 10 year sentence thanks to being found in possession of a loaded, gold-plated handgun on his private jet in December 2019. He was already prohibited from owning a firearm, due to a previous eight month conviction on an arms charge.
Another political pardon that may lift some eyebrows is the one for Paul Erickson. The White house doesn’t hold back in why it believes his pardon was warranted.
“President Trump has issued a full pardon to Paul Erikson. This pardon is supported by Kellyanne Conway. Mr. Erickson’s conviction was based off the Russian collusion hoax. After finding no grounds to charge him with any crimes with respect to connections with Russia, he was charged with a minor financial crime. Although the Department of Justice sought a lesser sentence, Mr. Erickson was sentenced to 7 years’ imprisonment—nearly double the Department of Justice’s recommended maximum sentence. This pardon helps right the wrongs of what has been revealed to be perhaps the greatest witch hunt in American History.”
Although Trump didn’t give any pardons to his family (though how he could have when they haven’t been charged for any crimes is another matter) he did give a pardon to someone on the recommendation of a family member.
That person was Robert Bowker, who 30 years previously was found guilty of illegally arranging for some snakes to be transported. The family member who supported the pardon was Trump’s brother, Robert Trump, who died in August last year.
“President Trump granted a full pardon to Robert Bowker. Mr. Bowker’s pardon is supported by Ann Marie Pallan, Sherriff Butch Anderson, and the late Robert Trump. Nearly 30 years ago, Mr. Bowker pled guilty to a violation the Lacey Act, which prohibits trafficking in wildlife, when he arranged for 22 snakes owned by Rudy “Cobra King” Komarek to be transported to the Miami Serpentarium. Although he did not ask for any animals in return, he was offered 22 American alligators. After pleading guilty, Mr. Bowker was sentenced to probation. Mr. Bowker has dedicated resources to animal conservation efforts in the intervening decades, including as a member of the Humane Society of the United States, World Wildlife Fund, and Wildlife Conservation Society.”
Other pardons were less controversial. Heading the list was Todd Boulanger, who performed an act of heroism and who is seen as a model member of his community. This is what the White house had to say:
“President Trump granted a full pardon to Todd Boulanger. Mr. Boulanger’s pardon is supported by numerous friends, as well as by past and present business associates. In 2008, Mr. Boulanger pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud. He has taken full responsibility for his conduct. Mr. Boulanger is a veteran of the United States Army Reserves and was honorably discharged. He has also received an award from the City of the District of Columbia for heroism for stopping and apprehending an individual who assaulted an elderly woman with a deadly weapon on Capitol Hill. Mr. Boulanger is known as a model member of his community. In addition, he is remorseful for his actions and would like to leave his mistakes behind him.”
Trump had also pardoned some people before his last day in office. In total, Trump is reported to have pardoned, commuted, or rescinded the convictions of 237 people.
In total, Trump is believed to have granted less pardons than any modern-day president, other than George H.W. Bush, who granted only 77 pardons and commutations after his only term.
The president with the greatest amount of clemency was Barack Obama, who is reported to have granted clemency 1,927 times during his two terms, with some 212 pardons and 1,715 commutations.
US Presidents are also known to pardon one lucky turkey each Thanksgiving. But those pardons are not counted in the statistics.