The Daily Beast
Stephanie Keith/GettyPresident Trump has pardoned his former top strategist Steve Bannon in the final hours of his presidency, according to multiple reports.The move came after Trump was repeatedly cautioned against granting pardons to Bannon and GOP allies who were implicated in the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. Bannon’s chances at clemency had reportedly appeared to shrink when lawyers staged an intervention of sorts for Trump on the eve of his White House departure, warning him of potential legal headaches and further scrutiny in his impeachment trial.But Trump apparently defied the advice of lawyers after going back and forth on whether to pardon his former aide-turned-accused-fraudster. According to The New York Times, Trump made the decision after speaking to Bannon by phone earlier Tuesday. The move was reportedly meant to clear Bannon of the charges against him and spare him from standing trial in May. Bannon was arrested in August for allegedly defrauding donors in the $25 million “We Build the Wall” fundraising campaign, which sought to fulfill Trump’s pledge to build a wall with Mexico. Prosecutors accused Bannon and three others of pocketing the donations and using the money for their personal expenses, with the former White House strategist accused of personally skimming off $1 million.The former chairman of far-right news site Breitbart pleaded not guilty in New York federal court and was released after posting a $5 million bond.Trump had distanced himself from his former aide following the arrest and stressed that he hadn’t had anything to do with Bannon for a “very long time.”But in the countdown of his final hours in office on Tuesday, Trump reportedly could not let go of the prospect of pardoning Bannon, repeatedly asking aides about if even after many thought the issue had already been settled and the pardon was a no-go.Bannon’s involvement in the Jan. 6 riot was seen as a dealbreaker. As The Daily Beast reported, a company with links to Bannon sent out mass text messages “calling all patriots” to head to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6 to protest the certification of Joe Biden’s win in the presidential election.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.