Donald Trump granted pardons to rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black on Tuesday night as part of a last-minute spree that saw Trump issue clemency to many political allies on his final full day in office.
Wayne, whose real name is Dwayne Carter, pleaded guilty on a federal weapons charge last year and received a full pardon. Kodak Black, whose real name is Bill Kapri, received a commutation after being charged in 2019 with falsifying information on federal forms to buy firearms.
Bradford Cohen, the attorney for both rappers, confirmed to Rolling Stone that both were granted clemency. “President Trump and his administration have been tireless advocates on behalf of the African-American community,” Cohen tells Rolling Stone. “These pardons are a perfect example of this administration following up on its reforms and commitments.”
Last November, Carter was charged with one count of possessing a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon. He had previously pleaded guilty to a felony gun charge in New York in 2009 and was eventually sentenced to a year in prison. The new charge stemmed from an incident that took place December 23rd, 2019 in Miami-Dade County in Florida.
In December, Carter pleaded guilty to the federal charge and his sentencing hearing was scheduled to take place January 28th. While the charge could’ve landed the rapper in prison for up to 10 years, many expected the plea deal to come with a much lighter sentence that might not include any jail time.
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“A pardon for Mr. Carter is consistent with the views of many jurists — including Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett — that prosecuting a non-violent citizen for merely possessing a firearm violates the Second Amendment to the U. S. Constitution,” Howard Srebnick, another attorney for Carter, tells Rolling Stone. He added that the firearm in question was a “collector’s piece, given to him as a Father’s Day gift.”
Throughout all of this, there was speculation that Carter was angling for a pardon after he unexpectedly shared a photo on Twitter of himself and Trump in the final days of the 2020 presidential campaign. Though the photo didn’t include a formal endorsement, he praised Trump’s work on “criminal reform” as well as his so-called “Platinum Plan” to help black communities.
Just had a great meeting with @realdonaldtrump @potus besides what he’s done so far with criminal reform, the platinum plan is going to give the community real ownership. He listened to what we had to say today and assured he will and can get it done. 🤙🏾 pic.twitter.com/Q9c5k1yMWf
— Lil Wayne WEEZY F (@LilTunechi) October 29, 2020
Trump also granted commutation to fellow rapper Kodak Black, who was in prison for falsifying information on federal forms to buy firearms in Miami on two separate occasions, as Revolt TV reports. He admitted to lying on the forms and pleaded guilty in 2019. as New York Times reports. The rapper was slated to serve a 46-month prison sentence that was expected to end November 2022. Last month, he made a plea to reduce his sentence, though prosecutors denied his request.
“[Kodak Black] has not presented ‘extraordinary and compelling reasons’ supporting his request for release” assistant U.S. Attorney Bruce O. Brown wrote in his motion denying Kodak’s request via Revolt. “Stated [for] correction: [Kodak] has not presented ANY reason supporting his request for release. He merely states he is not an evil person and promises to participate in community-based programs aimed at helping the ‘younger generation.’ That simply is inadequate pursuant to the statute.”
The rappers’ clemency was part of a last-minute spree that included pardons for Steve Bannon, who was charged with defrauding Trump donors in an online fundraising campaign, Elliott Broidy, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy in connection with lobbying the Trump administration, and former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who was convicted of racketeering and extortion, among other crimes. In total, Trump granted clemency to 143 people, according to the Washington Post.
Trump has made the most out of his pardon and commutation powers throughout his presidency, granting clemency to a cast of characters that includes ex-Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich (convicted of essentially trying to sell Barack Obama’s Senate seat), disgraced financier Michael Milken (pleaded guilty to securities fraud and conspiracy) and conservative author Dinesh D’Souza (pleaded guilty to making illegal campaign contributions). In one notable showing back in 2018, Trump commuted the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson (after some high-profile lobbying form Kim Kardashian West), who was sentenced to life for a non-violent drug offense.
Johnson was granted a full pardon last August, though she’s generally an outlier in the types of people Trump has granted clemency to in his final year in office. That group includes several associates wrapped up in the Mueller probe, like Roger Stone, Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort, as well as folks like Jared Kushner’s father, Charles Kushner (pleaded guilty to tax crimes and witness tampering) and four Blackwater mercenaries connected to the Nissour Square massacre that left 17 Iraqi civilians dead in 2007.
Additional reporting by Althea Legaspi