With hours left in office, Donald Trump pardons Steve Bannon

Written by Maggie Haberman

President Donald Trump has granted clemency to Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist who was charged with defrauding political donors who supported building a border wall that Trump supported, White House officials said.

The president made the decision after a day of frantic efforts to sway his thinking, including from Bannon, who spoke to him by phone Tuesday.

The pardon was described as a preemptive move that would effectively wipe away the charges against Bannon, should he be convicted.

Bannon was indicted and arrested in August by federal prosecutors in Manhattan on charges related to the money raised to promote the construction of the wall long sought by Trump.

The pardon of Bannon was particularly remarkable because he had been charged with a crime but had yet to stand trial. An overwhelming majority of pardons and commutations granted by presidents have been for those who were convicted and sentenced.

The White House had planned to release the list of those granted clemency earlier Tuesday, but the debate over Bannon, who publicly encouraged Trump to fight the certification of the 2020 election results, was part of the delay, officials said.

Trump and Bannon spoke by phone as Bannon’s allies tried to apply pressure to make the pardon happen and his detractors pushed the president not to go ahead with it.

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