Former President Donald Trump on Tuesday granted clemency to 143 people, using a final act of presidential power to extend mercy to former White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon, well-connected celebrities and nonviolent drug offenders, reports The Washington Post. The last-minute clemency extended to Bannon underscores how Trump has used his presidential power to benefit allies and political backers. He had previously pardoned or commuted the sentences of his former campaign chairman, former national security adviser and a former campaign foreign policy adviser.
However, the New York Times reports that the long list of pardons his team has prepared for him to sign on his final full day in office includes the names of people who have been serving life sentences for drug or fraud charges and who for years have been seeking clemency. In the past, the administration has emphasized clemency for low-level offenders in order to blunt criticism that Trump was inappropriately offering pardons to people to whom he had personal connections. Tuesday’s group includes nonviolent offenders whose names have been percolating for years among advocates who believe their punishments never fit their crimes and whose cases underscore the broken nature of the country’s criminal justice system.