By Ovunc Kutlu
ANKARA (AA) – Outgoing President Donald Trump granted pardons to 73 individuals and commuted the sentences of an additional 70 people on his final day in the office, the White House said Wednesday in a statement.
Among the pardoned is Trump's former chief strategist Steve Bannon, who was indicted for allegedly defrauding thousands of people in a campaign to raise funds to build private sections of the wall along the US-Mexico border.
Another name is rapper Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., known as Lil Wayne, who pled guilty to possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon, owing to a conviction over 10 years ago. He endorsed Trump before the November presidential election.
Trump's list included other names from the music industry, such as rapper Bill Kapri, whose stage name is Kodak Black, who was arrested for weapons possession last year and sentenced to almost four years in prison, but had his sentence commuted by Trump.
Michael "Harry O" Harris, the co-founder of prominent West Coast record label Death Row Records, saw his sentence commuted by Trump after he has served 30 years of a 25-year-to-life sentence for conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.
Other notable names on Trump's list include Elliott Broidy, the former deputy national finance chair of the Republican National Committee, and Paul Erickson, who was subject to federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US elections.
The list also included some former Republican lawmakers, such as Representative Rick Renzi of Arizona, who was convicted of extortion, bribery, insurance fraud, money laundering, and racketeering, but was granted a full pardon.
Former North Carolina Congressman Robert Cannon "Robin" Hayes, who made a false statement in a federal investigation, was granted a full pardon. Former California Congressman Randall "Duke" Cunningham, who was sentenced to over eight years of imprisonment for accepting bribes, was granted a conditional pardon.
Trump commuted the sentence of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Malik Kilpatrick, who served approximately seven years for his role in a racketeering and bribery scheme. And, Kenneth Kurson, a friend of his son-in-law Jared Kushner, was given a full pardon for cyberstalking his ex-wife.
Before his latest ramp-up of using presidential authority, Trump granted clemency to almost 50 people before Christmas, and had issued around 90 pardons and commutations before that.
It is not unusual for US presidents to issue a wave of pardons and commutations during their last days in the White House, but Trump’s have been controversial for bypassing normal procedures as well as for the many given to his allies, associates and convicted war criminals.
Then-President Barack Obama granted clemency to 330 individuals serving time for drug offenses as part of mass incarceration caused by the war on drugs.
Then-President Bill Clinton pardoned more than 100 people on his last day in office, including his brother Roger Clinton and fugitive financier and trader Marc Rich. Clinton's pardons were widely criticized and led to a congressional probe.
It is unclear if Trump’s controversial pardons – which have even attracted criticism from Republican members of Congress – will lead to a similar investigation.