The Bannon Pardon: When Is Someone Really Off the Hook?

National Law Journal
1 minute read | February.12.2021

Anyone under federal indictment would want a presidential pardon. Facing a criminal trial and even the possibility of going to jail is enough reason to accept one—even if it might be taken as an admission of sorts by the recipient of the pardon that he has, indeed, committed the crime for which he is being pardoned.

Now, of course, anyone with any sophistication in the area will tell you that a president can only pardon a defendant or potential defendant of federal charges. Only a governor, at least in some states, can extend a pardon for state crimes.

So, it seems that Steve Bannon can't be prosecuted any longer for the precise crimes with which he was charged in the Southern District of New York—generically, for participating in a conspiracy to defraud donors through misrepresentations made by him and his confederates, ostensibly to "Build The Wall." (Based on a technical flaw in the pardon warrant itself, it is likely that the feds could reindict Bannon for substantive mail or wire fraud—but that remains to be seen and is beyond the scope of this article.)