Final Hours: Trump pardons Bannon in final acts of clemency
Outgoing US President Donald Trump has pardoned his former adviser Steve Bannon, who is facing fraud charges.
The announcement came just hours before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.
Mr Trump also granted clemency to more than 140 others in his final hours in office.
A pardon was announced for rapper Lil Wayne and commutations for rapper Kodak Black and former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.
In all, 73 individuals received pardons and another 70 had their sentences commuted, a statement from the White House said.
Mr Bannon, who was a key strategist and adviser to President Trump during his 2016 campaign, was charged in August last year with fraud over a fundraising campaign to build a wall on the US-Mexico border.
Prosecutors said Mr Bannon and three others defrauded hundreds of thousands of donors in connection with the “We Build the Wall” campaign which raised $25m (£18m). It was alleged Mr Bannon received more than $1m, at least some of which he used to cover personal expenses. He denies the charges and has yet to stand trial.
The White House statement said Mr Bannon had been “an important leader in the conservative movement and is known for his political acumen”. It said prosecutors had “pursued” him with charges “related to fraud stemming from his involvement in a political project”.
Lil Wayne and Kodak Black have both been prosecuted on weapons charges while Kwame Kilpatrick is serving a 28-year prison term on corruption charges.
It is common for outgoing presidents to issue pardons before they leave the White House.
A pardon cancels a criminal conviction, while a commutation shortens or ends a prison sentence. When it comes to crimes charged in a federal court, the US president has virtually unlimited power to pardon.
Mr Trump has issued dozens of pardons in recent months. Many of those pardoned have been close associates and allies, such as former campaign manager Paul Manafort, long-time ally Roger Stone and his son-in-law Jared Kushner’s father, Charles.