Trump Pardons Lil Wayne & Kodak Black
In the final hours of his presidency, Donald Trump has issued 143 pardons, mostly to his political allies, including former his chief strategist Steve Bannon and his fundraiser Elliott Broidy. (Bannon was under indictments for misusing money that he’d supposedly raised to help Trump’s border wall. Broidy had pleaded guilty to violating foreign lobbying laws.) Most of the people Trump pardons were former officials like Randall “Duke” Cunningham and Kwame Kirkpatrick, who’d been sentenced on various corruption charges. But as The New York Times reports, Trump also pardoned two rap stars, Lil Wayne and Kodak Black. Trump had reportedly been considering pardons for both.
Last month, a few weeks after he met with and endorsed Trump, Wayne pleaded guilty on a federal gun possession charge. As a convicted felon, it’s illegal for Wayne to have a firearm or ammunition. He had both. When police searched a private plane in Miami in December 2019, they found a gun and bullets on Wayne. Wayne was looking at up to 10 years in prison. According to the BBC, the former baseball and football star Deion Sanders and the Sovereign Brands CEO Brett Berish both lobbied for Wayne’s pardon.
In 2019, Kodak Black was sentenced to four years in prison for making a false statement to buy a firearm. Since 2016, he’s also been under indictment on charges of criminal sexual conduct in South Carolina. Those lobbying for Kodak’s pardon included the pastor and Trump advisor Darrell Scott, Rabbi Schneur Kaplan, and former NYPD commissioner Bernie Kerik, as well as fellow rap stars Gucci Mane, Lil Baby, and Lil Yachty.
Another of Trump’s pardons went to Death Row Records co-founder Michael “Harry-O” Harris, who spent 32 years in prison for attempted murder and drug trafficking. Snoop Dogg, who started his career on Death Row, was one of the people lobbying for Harris’ pardon.
Trump is still legally allowed to issue pardons until noon today.
UPDATE: Variety reports that Trump also pardoned Desiree Perez, the woman who co-founded Roc Nation with Jay-Z and who became the company’s CEO in 2019. Perez was arrested for drug possession in 1994 and for grand larceny and gun possession in 1998. In a statement, Perez said:
I’m grateful to have received a pardon and to have formally closed that chapter of my life in the eyes of the law. I have taken full accountability for my mistakes from 25 years ago, but I also take tremendous pride in my personal growth, perseverance and accomplishments since then. This pardon reinforces my lifelong commitment to advocate for criminal justice reform and social justice initiatives.