With only a few days left in his term in office, it is widely expected that President Donald Trump, just like many presidents before him, will issue a number of commutations and pardons.
One potential recipient of Trump’s executive clemency is Steve Bannon, a former top adviser who was indicted in 2020 for allegedly defrauding people as part of a fundraising effort to build a portion of the border wall, Politico reported.
The notion that Trump is considering issuing a pardon for Bannon was forwarded to the media outlet by two unnamed sources said to be “familiar with the matter.”
Politico noted that clemency for Bannon was expected to be included in two large batches of commutations and pardons that Trump will issue in the final days before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn-in.
Alleged fundraising fraud
National Review reported that Bannon, who was previously the CEO of Breitbart News before taking a key role in Trump’s 2016 campaign and then a top advisory position for part of Trump’s first year in office, has not been convicted of any crime at this point.
However, Bannon was included among a small group of people indicted for their roles in the “We Build The Wall” crowdfunding venture for a section of border wall to be built on a stretch of private land.
Bannon and the others stand accused of having defrauded donors by promising that Brian Kolfage, the disabled veteran who founded the project, would not be paid out of those donations. Yet, prosecutors allege, hundreds of thousands of dollars from the millions that were donated were quietly funneled to Kolfage and then used to fund his own personal expenses.
Speculation that Trump might pardon Bannon is not entirely new, as Bannon’s name was included on a list of potential clemency recipients published by the New York Magazine’s Intelligencer in early December, shortly after Trump had pardoned former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.
That list included the prospect of preemptive pardons for Trump’s three adult children — Ivanka, Donald Jr., and Eric — as well as son-in-law Jared Kushner and potentially even himself, all in a bid to try and prevent vindictive federal prosecutions in the future by Biden’s Justice Department.
Also included were a number of Trump’s top aides and associates, such as Bannon or personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, as well as those who got caught up in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s contrived Russian collusion probe that went nowhere and resulted in only a few convictions for minor process crimes or unrelated issues.
There were also a few unexpected inclusions on that list as well, such as Joe Exotic of Tiger King fame, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and former NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, among others.
Trump hasn’t granted any executive clemency since two large rounds on Dec. 22 and Dec. 23, and if he intends to pardon Bannon or anyone else mentioned on the above list or elsewhere, we will certainly know within the next few days.