With just hours left in his presidency, President Donald Trump issued a long list of last-minute pardons Tuesday night. The batch of 73 pardons and 70 commutations included a former Trump strategist facing trial on charges of swindling donors to a private group raising money for border wall construction; a former Detroit mayor found guilty in 2013 of corruption charges, and two well-known rappers, Kodak Black and Lil Wayne.
Wayne, who endorsed the president before the 2020 presidential election, was granted a full pardon after he pleaded guilty to a federal firearms charge in December 2020. The charge is related to an arrest in December 2019, when he took a loaded handgun on his private jet from California to Florida. A convicted felon, it was illegal for him to possess the weapon. In issuing the pardon, the president, via a White House announcement, cited Brett Berish of Sovereign Brands, who describes the rapper, whose real name is Dwayne Carter, as "trustworthy, kind-hearted and generous." It added that Wayne had shown his generosity "through a commitment to a variety of charities, including donations to research hospitals and a host of foodbanks." Without the pardon, Wayne was expected to appear in court on Jan. 28, where he would face up to 10 years in prison.
Black, meanwhile, received a commutation after he pleaded guilty to a weapons charge. He was sentenced in November 2019 to nearly four years in prison after having pleaded guilty in August 2019 to two counts of knowingly making a false and fictitious written statement to "unlawfully acquire firearms." The White House's memo noted that Black’s pardon was supported by numerous religious leaders, including Pastor Darrell Scott and Rabbi Schneur Kaplan, as well as many others.
Others granted pardons or commutations include Elliott Broidy, a former top fundraiser for Trump's campaign who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy. Professional gambler Billy Walters, who was sentenced to five years in prison for insider trading, was also pardoned and Steve Bannon, former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, and Former Republican House member Rick Renzi of Arizona, along with dozens of others.
Notably missing from the list was Joe Exotic, who has been pleading with the president for a pardon for months. Exotic’s team had been so confident a pardon would be issued that his team had a limo parked near his prison ready to pick him up. Exotic, who rose t fame following the debut of Netflix's Tiger King docuseries, is currently serving a 22-year prison sentence after he was convicted with eight counts of falsifying records after he violated the Lacey Act, nine counts of violating the Endangered Species Act, and two counts of murder-for-hire for his plot targeting Carole Baskin.