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Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty

President Trump issued 73 pardons and commuted the sentences of 70 individuals early Wednesday, 11 hours from leaving office.

Why it matters: It's a last-minute gift to some of the president's loyalists and an evident use of executive power with only hours left of his presidency. Axios reported in December that Trump planned to grant pardons to "every person who ever talked to me."

For the record: Some pardons and commutations were granted to Trump's allies, while others were related to criminal justice issues.

Zoom in: The highest-profile name on the list was Trump's former chief strategist Steve Bannon. This pardon spared a close former aid from a federal fraud prosecution over his alleged misappropriation of nonprofit funds. Others pardoned include:

  • Elliot Broidy, former top Republican fundraiser who pled guilty to conspiring to violate foreign lobbying laws to sway the administration on behalf of Chinese and Malaysian interests.
  • Rapper Lil Wayne, who pleaded guilty to a gun charge.
  • Anthony Levandowski, the engineer at the center of a 2017 lawsuit between Google's self-driving car unit and Uber over alleged theft of trade secrets.
  • Rick Renzi, former Republican congressman from Arizona who was convicted of corruption, corruptionracketeering and money laundering.
  • Duke Cunningham, former Republican congressman from California who pleaded guilty to accepting $2.3 million in bribes.
  • Robert Zangrillo, a Miami investor charged with committing fraud and bribery to secure his daughter's admission to USC.

Flashback: Trump in December granted pardons to more than two dozen people, including his former campaign chair Paul Manafort, associate Roger Stone, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos and son-in-law Jared Kushner's father, Charles Kushner.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper

Off the Rails

Episode 1: A premeditated lie lit the fire

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 1: Trump’s refusal to believe the election results was premeditated. He had heard about the “red mirage” — the likelihood that early vote counts would tip more Republican than the final tallies — and he decided to exploit it.

"Jared, you call the Murdochs! Jason, you call Sammon and Hemmer!”

Off the Rails

Episode 3: Descent into madness ... Trump: "Sometimes you need a little crazy"

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 3: The conspiracy goes too far. Trump's outside lawyers plot to seize voting machines and spin theories about communists, spies and computer software.

President Trump was sitting in the Oval Office one day in late November when a call came in from lawyer Sidney Powell. "Ugh, Sidney," he told the staff in the room before he picked up. "She's getting a little crazy, isn't she? She's really gotta tone it down. No one believes this stuff. It's just too much."

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Here come Earmarks 2.0

DeLauro at a hearing in May 2020. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The House Appropriations Committee is preparing to restore a limited version of earmarks, which give lawmakers power to direct spending to their districts to pay for special projects.

Why it matters: A series of scandals involving members in both parties prompted a moratorium on earmarks in 2011. But Democrats argue it's worth the risk to bring them back because earmarks would increase their leverage to pass critical legislation with a narrow majority, especially infrastructure and spending bills.