US President Donald Trump has pardoned former chief strategist Steve Bannon as part of a late flurry of clemency action benefiting nearly 150 people.
The pardons and commutations for 143 people, including Bannon, were announced after midnight on Wednesday in the final hours of Trump’s White House term.
Besides Bannon, other pardon recipients included Elliott Broidy, a Republican fundraiser who pleaded guilty last autumn in a scheme to lobby the Trump administration to drop an investigation into the looting of a Malaysian wealth fund, and Ken Kurson, a friend of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner who was charged last October with cyberstalking during a divorce.
Bannon’s pardon was especially notable given that the prosecution was still in its early stages and any trial was months away. Whereas pardon recipients are conventionally thought of as defendants who have faced justice, often by having served at least some prison time, the pardon nullifies the prosecution and effectively eliminates any prospect for punishment.
Wednesday’s list also includes rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black, both convicted in Florida on weapons charges.
Wayne, whose real name is Dwayne Michael Carter, has frequently expressed support for Mr Trump and recently met with the president on criminal justice issues.
Kodak Black, also known as Bill K Kapri, had his sentence commuted.
Others on the list included Death Row Records co-founder Michael Harris and New York art dealer and collector Hillel Nahmad.
Other pardon recipients include former Representative Rick Renzi, an Arizona Republican who served three years for corruption, money laundering and other charges, and former Representative Duke Cunningham, who was convicted of accepting 2.4 million dollars in bribes from defence contractors. Cunningham, who was released from prison in 2013, received a conditional pardon.
Mr Trump also commuted the prison sentence of former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who has served about seven years behind bars for a racketeering and bribery scheme.