US President Donald Trump gives his farewell address from the White House, January 19, 2021 (Photo: courtesy of White House Twitter account)
US President Donald Trump on Wednesday pardoned 73 people, including his former aide Steve Bannon and other allies, just hours before he was due to leave office.
The list of those pardoned -- as well as 70 others whose sentences were commuted -- was released by the White House in a statement during the early hours.
Neither Trump nor his relatives were on the list.
Bannon had been charged with defrauding people over funds raised to build the Mexico border wall, a flagship Trump policy.
He was Trump's campaign manager during the 2016 election, before becoming a senior adviser to the president.
"Mr. Bannon has been an important leader in the conservative movement and is known for his political acumen," the statement read.
US media earlier reported that the president made his last-minute decision after speaking to Bannon by phone.
Former Trump fund-raiser Elliott Broidy was similarly pardoned, after pleading guilty last year to conspiring to violate foreign lobbying laws.
The rapper Lil Wayne, who last month pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon, and faced 10 years in jail, also made the list.
The star, listed as Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., "exhibited this generosity through commitment to a variety of charities, including donations to research hospitals and a host of foodbanks," the release added.
President-elect Joe Biden, who beat Trump in an election in November last year, was due to be sworn in as his successor later Wednesday.
Until then, the incumbent retains the power to issue further pardons.
Trump was due to skip the inauguration ceremony, flying from the White House to his Florida home.
He is yet to personally congratulate Biden on his win, and did not invite him for a customary visit to the Oval Office.
Tensions have soared of late on Capitol Hill, where the Senate is expected to soon put Trump on trial following his record second impeachment by the House of Representatives over a riot by his supporters in the Capitol building.
The spectacle will clash with the opening days of Biden's tenure, as the new president seeks to swiftly confirm his Cabinet picks and push through aggressive legislation including a $1.9 trillion package to rescue an economy buffeted by the coronavirus pandemic.