President Donald Trump is considering granting a pardon to Steve Bannon, his former White House chief strategist and top campaign aide, who was charged with swindling donors to a private crowdsourcing effort to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, according to two sources familiar with the matter.
The potential pardon would follow a wave of reprieves the president has recently granted to political allies who have been convicted, charged or reportedly under federal investigation. Two additional batches of pardons are expected — one on Friday night and one Wednesday morning before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn into office, according to one of the people.
Trump is expected to leave Washington Wednesday morning.
Bannon, the former executive chairman of the right-wing Breitbart News, was one of four men indicted by a federal grand jury in New York in August on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering in connection with their roles in the non-profit group “We Build the Wall.”
Trump sought to distance himself from the project at the time of Bannon’s arrest, saying it was “done for showboating reasons” and describing it as “inappropriate.”
Bannon has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, and is due to stand trial in May 2021.
The president had previously severed ties with Bannon — who was fired from the White House in 2017 — began talking again a couple months ago to strategize ways to overturn the election, according to a third person.
Bannon served as de facto campaign manager during the final months of the 2016 presidential race. After he was fired from the White House, Trump said he had “lost his mind.”
Trump also has been considering giving preemptive pardons to as many as 20 close associates and family members, including his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, and his children, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump, none of whom have been charged with a crime.
Trump issued two rounds of pre-Christmas pardons and commutations, including for three former members of Congress, numerous people convicted in Robert Mueller’s probe into Russia’s 2016 election interference, and four security contractors convicted for massacring Iraqi civilians in 2008.