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Steve Bannon, Lil Wayne: Who Did Donald Trump Pardon?

One notable absence from the list of those who were granted executive clemency was "Tiger King" star Joe Exotic, whose legal team had been so confident he'd receive a last-minute pardon from the president they had a limo waiting.

By Jill Sederstrom
Kodak Black Lil Wayne Steve Bannon G

In one of his final acts in office, President Donald Trump issued pardons for 73 people and commuted the sentences of another 70, including Steve Bannon, Lil Wayne and rapper Kodak Black.

Trump signed the official paperwork that issued the pardons just before midnight on Wednesday, capping his final full day as president, according to The Washington Post.

Trump did not issue any preemptive pardons to either himself or any family members.

Some of the notable names on the list of those who did receive a pardon include:

Steve Bannon

Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, 67, was issued a full pardon after being charged last year with defrauding donors of a charity created to fund Trump’s dream of building a wall between the United States and Mexico. Bannon served as the chief executive of Trump’s 2016 campaign and was chief strategist in the White House after Trump assumed office, until August 2017.

“Prosecutors pursued Mr. Bannon with charges related to fraud stemming from his involvement in a political project,” a statement  from the White House said concerning Trump’s decision to issue the pardon. “Mr. Bannon has been an important leader in the conservative movement and is know for his political acumen.”

According to the Washington Post, Trump went back and forth over whether to pardon Bannon, weighing his past work for him and the potential for future political value against what he saw as previous disloyal behavior that led to Bannon's White House exit.

Lil Wayne

Lil wiWayne, whose real name is Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., also received a full pardon from President Trump for a weapons violation. The rapper pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon and faced 10 years behind bars (his sentencing was scheduled for Jan. 28); however, the White House noted in its announcement of the pardon the “generosity” the musician has showed through donations to research hospitals and food banks.

The pardon was also supported by Brett Berish of Sovereign Brands and Deion Sanders, who wrote that Lil Wayne was “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,” according to the statement.

Kodak Black

Trump commuted the sentence of rapper Kodak Black, whose real name is Bill Kapri. He cited the support of numerous religious leaders including Pastor Darrell Scott and Rabbi Schneur Kaplan in his decision to commute the 46-month prison sentence. Black was convicted of making a false statement on a federal document when trying to buy a firearm. He has already served nearly half of his sentence.

“Before his conviction and after reaching success as a recording artist, Kodak Black became deeply involved in numerous philanthropic efforts,” the statement from the White House said. “In fact, he has committed to supporting a variety of charitable efforts, such as providing educational resources to students and families of fallen law enforcement officers and the underprivileged.”

Kwame Kilpatrick

Trump also commuted the sentence of Kwame Kilpatrick, the former Detroit mayor who was convicted of racketeering and bribery for acts committed while he was in office. Kilpatrick had served seven years of his 28-year sentence.

“During his incarceration, Mr. Kilpatrick has taught public speaking classes and has led Bible Study groups with his fellow inmates,” the White House statement said, also citing the support of prominent Detroit community members including Alveda King, Alice Johnson, Diamond and Silk and Pastor Paula White and more than 30 faith leaders.

Other notable names: After lobbying efforts by Snoop Dog, the sentence of Death Row Records co-founder Michael “Harry O” Harris was also commuted, according to The New York Post.  Prominent Republican fundraiser Elliot Broidy—who once served as the deputy national finance chair of the Republican National Committee—was also granted a full pardon.

Notably absent from the list was "Tiger King" star Joe Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage. Exotic is serving a 22 year sentence for violating several wildlife laws and orchestrating an attempted murder-for-hire plot to kill rival Carole Baskin. His legal team had been so confident Maldonado-Passage—who became a household name after the hugely successful Netflix’s documentary “Tiger King”—would receive a pardon from the president that they had a limo waiting along with a hair and makeup team on standby.

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