The White House confirmed on Wednesday, January 20, the last day of Donald Trump’s presidential term, the list of 73 pardons and another 70 commutations of sentences signed by the outgoing president. It includes the names of Steve Bannon, the far-right adviser accused of defrauding donors for the construction of the wall with Mexico and Elliott Broidy, a former fundraiser for the Trump campaign. On the same day, Trump suspended the deportation of Venezuelan irregular immigrants for 18 months and granted them work permits.
A few hours after the end of his presidential term, Donald Trump once again used presidential power to sign pardons in order to free political allies and people close to his figure from justice. Among the names on the list of pardons is that of his campaign advisor in 2016, Steve Bannon, accused of defrauding donors for the border wall between the United States and Mexico.
Bannon, who soon lost the president’s confidence after criticizing the president’s sons, later became an advisor to several of the top leaders of the European far-right – including Mateo Salvini in Italy and Santiago Abascal in Spain. In recent months, he regained the confidence of Trump, who again asked his advice to develop a strategy that would allow him to allege fraud in the last November elections.
The Manhattan Prosecutor’s Office detained Bannon last August after being accused of having used a million dollars for personal expenses, from donations for the construction of Trump’s wall on the border with Mexico. The advisor and three other collaborators were charged with “orchestrating a scheme to defraud hundreds of thousands of dollars” in a campaign that was intended to raise $ 25 million.
Elliot Broidy and other close names the president, also pardoned
Among these last pardons of Donald Trump is also the name of Elliot Broidy, a Californian businessman, who in 2016 became one of the main fundraisers for the magnate’s campaign from the beginning, when most of the The elite Republican donor was still skeptical of the Trump figure.
In October 2020, he pleaded guilty to violating foreign lobbying laws in favor of Chinese and Malaysian interests. In his guilty plea, Broidy claimed to have accepted $ 9 million Malaysian financier Jho Low in order to get pressure on Trump’s cabinet to extradite a Chinese dissident and to close a case against Low for embezzlement of a fund. Malay sovereign.
Also on the pardon list are the names of prominent men from the Republican Party. Among them, Rick Renzi – a former member of the House of Representatives -, sentenced in 2013 to three years in prison for bribes that included land exchanges in Arizona, and Robert Hayes, a congressman from North Carolina, who pleaded guilty in 2019 to lying to the FBI.
In addition, he also granted clemency to Democrat and former Detroit Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick, convicted in 2013 of using his position to enrich himself and his family through blackmail and bribery. Among other names, Paul Erickson, a conservative political agent and ex-partner of alleged Russian spy Maria Butina, who pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud and money laundering, stands out.
Although there was speculation that Trump could include his own name on this list, this possibility has not been confirmed at the moment, although he still has until the afternoon of January 20 to confirm more pardons.
18-month suspension of the deportation of Venezuelan illegal immigrants
Hours before taking these measures, on January 19 the White House also confirmed the suspension for a period of 18 months of the deportation of illegal Venezuelan immigrants and the granting of temporary work permits.
“The deteriorating situation within Venezuela, which represents a continuing threat to national security, justifies the postponement of the expulsion of Venezuelan citizens who are present in the United States,” the White House said in a statement. This measure marks as exceptions the cases of people who have been previously deported or accused of crime or misdemeanors.
Along with the suspension of deportations, “employment authorizations for foreigners whose expulsion has been postponed (…) for the duration of said postponement” were approved, in a set of measures that are a clear nod to the increasingly broad Venezuelan community in the United States, who join the previous sanctions against the Maduro government.
With Reuters, EFE and local media.