Over his four years in office, President Donald Trump issued 238 pardons and commutations.
In a final flurry announced less than 12 hours before he left the White House on Wednesday, Trump added figures like former chief strategist Stephen Bannon and Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy to the list. The pardons continued up to the final hour when the White House announced the pardon of Albert J. Pirro Jr., the ex-husband of Fox News personality Judge Jeanine Pirro, as Joe Biden was already at the U.S. Capitol for his swearing in.
It's an eclectic group that over the four years includes Roger J. Stone Jr. and the rapper Lil Wayne, as well as four Blackwater guards convicted of killing Iraqi civilians.
Trump has also used his power to help a range of political allies as well as less prominent figures, such as drug offenders who had their cases championed by criminal justice reform advocates.
The president also dipped deeply into the world of commerce with pardons of some big names in the financial world. Here are a few of the biggest business-world recipients of Trump’s executive clemency.
Most notable business names
Conrad Moffat Black is a Canadian-born newspaper mogul who ran Hollinger International, a large newspaper group, in the 1990s. In 2007, he was convicted of mail fraud and obstruction of justice and served 42 months in prison before he received his pardon in 2019.
In announcing the pardon, the White House noted Black’s newspaper career as well as fact that he was the “author of several notable biographies and works of history.” The pardon was supported by figures ranging from Sir Elton John to Rush Limbaugh.
Another prominent businessman from the 1980s and 1990s who received a pardon was Michael Robert Milken. The so-called junk bond king was convicted of securities fraud, mail fraud, and tax fraud and was pardoned by the president in 2020.
In announcing the pardon, the White House called him “one of America’s greatest financiers” and added that the charges against Milken’s schemes “were truly novel.”
Charles Kushner is a former real estate developer and attorney. He is also the father of Jared Kushner, Trump’s senior adviser and the husband of Ivanka Trump. Kushner was convicted — during an investigation led by then-U.S. Attorney Chris Christie — of fraud and making false statements. He was pardoned in 2020 after completing his sentence in 2006.
In announcing the pardon, the White House noted that the pardon had been supported by figures like former U.S. Attorney Brett Tolman and the American Conservative Union’s Matt Schlapp.
Former Google engineer Anthony Levandowski was convicted last August of stealing trade secrets related to self-driving cars before he became the head of a similar outfit at Uber. Levandowski was sentenced to 18 months in prison but a judge ordered he wait to serve the time due to the coronavirus pandemic.
After leaving Google, in 2016, Levandowski founded a self-driving truck company called Otto, which he sold to Uber for $680 million. He went on to develop self-driving cars at Uber.
The pardon was supported by prominent figures in tech, such as Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey and Peter Thiel, a PayPal co-founder and Trump ally.
Elliot Broidy, a former top Republican fundraiser, pleaded guilty last year for conspiring to violate foreign lobbying laws as part of a secret attempt to influence Trump administration policy at the behest of Chinese and Malaysian interests. The felony charge carried a sentence of up to five years.
Broidy played a key role in fundraising for Trump’s 2016 campaign, serving as vice chairman of Trump Victory, a joint fundraising committee between the presidential campaign and the Republican National Committee. After Trump’s election, he was named deputy finance chair for the Republican National Committee.
Miami developer Bob Zangrillo stood accused of securing his daughter’s spot at the University of Southern California through bribery and fraud — part of a widespread admissions scandal that made national headlines when it came to light in 2019, and led to short prison terms for actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman. Zangrillo’s daughter, Amber Zangrillo, falsely presented herself as a competitive rower and, after her acceptance, Zangrillo paid $50,000 to USC’s Athletics Department as well as $200,000 to consultant Rick Singer, the mastermind of the operation, according to prosecutors. Zangrillo pleaded not guilty and a trial was set for September.
The White House listed several business people who supported the pardon, including Geoffrey Palmer, who gave at least $6 million to America First Action, a pro-Trump Super PAC.
Trump’s list of pardons and commutations also includes less prominent figures who often have something in common: they’ve given financial support to Trump.
An example is Paul Harvey Pogue, who owned a construction company in Texas when an IRS audit found that he had underpaid his taxes. Pogue’s family reportedly donated over $200,000 to Trump’s campaign.
In another example, part of Trump’s final batch of pardons before leaving office was clemency given to Robin Hayes. The North Carolina businessman was caught up in a corruption scandal there. Hayes was also a prominent Republican donor and one-time chairman of the state’s Republican Party.
Trump also pardoned George Gilmore, of New Jersey, who was convicted of failing to pay payroll taxes withheld from his employees. Gilmore is also a prominent figure in Republican politics in New Jersey and his case was championed by Bill Stepien, who served as the campaign manager for Trump's unsuccessful 2020 campaign for re-election.
Ben Werschkul is a writer and producer for Yahoo Finance in Washington, DC. Max Zahn is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Find him on twitter @MaxZahn_. Erin Fuchs contributed reporting.