UPDATE: President Trump has pardoned former adviser Steve Bannon. "President Trump granted a full pardon to Stephen Bannon. Prosecutors pursued Mr. Bannon with charges related to fraud stemming from his involvement in a political project. Mr. Bannon has been an important leader in the conservative movement and is known for his political acumen," the White House said in a statement.
Original Story: President Donald will pardon his former chief strategist Steve Bannon, a host of media websites have reported late on Tuesday, just hours before the president's term ends. CNN reported that officials in Trump's close circle said the president has made the decision just hours before he leaves the White House. However, the news outlet says the decision is not final and that Trump has not signed paper work.
Trump, whose terms ends Wednesday at noon, is expected to issue several pardons before leaving office.
The former associate of Trump is facing federal case pertaining to a charge of allegedly defrauding donors of more than a million dollars. The funds were raised in support of Trump's border wall project.
If indeed Trump pardons Bannon, it will be a remarkable turnaround in the relations between the two. Trump had ousted Bannon from his inner circle after Bannon trashed the president's children. Bannon, the media strategist who helped in Trump's rise to power, was quoted in a book saying that Donald Trump Jr. had a "treasonous" meeting with a Russian attorney. Bannon had also called Ivanka Trump "dumb as a brick."
Though Trump had said at that time that Bannon had nothing to do with his presidency, the two had established communication in recent times. Bannon, the former executive chairman of right-wing news site Breitbart, was supportive of Trump's re-election bid and had echoed him since the November 3 election loss.
Case Against Bannon
Prosecutors have said Bannon had used some of the money raised for the "We Build the Wall" campaign to pay personal expenses. "The defendants defrauded hundreds of thousands of donors, capitalizing on their interest in funding a border wall to raise millions of dollars, under the false pretense that all of that money would be spent on construction," the U.S. Attorney had said.
Bannon, who pleaded not guilty to the charges, is out on a $5 million bond and is awaiting trial.
President Trump has already pardoned more than 90 people, including his 2016 campaign manager Paul Manafort and former campaign aide George Papadopoulos. Another high profile Trump pardon was that of General Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI over Russian contacts.