The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Trump allies have amassed nearly 30 years in prison sentences

Eleven Trump allies have been convicted or pleaded guilty to various offenses. He’s shaved nearly 11 years off their sentences with pardons.

Former Trump White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon leaves after being sentenced at the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse in Washington. (Graeme Sloan/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)
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Eleven allies of and advisers to former president Donald Trump have been convicted or pleaded guilty in recent years to various offenses, with their total sentences nearing 30 years of imprisonment.

Former top Trump campaign strategist and White House adviser Stephen K. Bannon is the latest to be headed to prison. After being convicted of contempt of Congress for refusing to testify before the House Jan. 6 committee, he was sentenced Friday to four months in prison and a $6,500 fine.

As president, Trump also pardoned Bannon for unrelated felony charges related to whether he and others had defrauded donors to the “We Build the Wall” fundraising campaign before that case could be brought to trial. And many Trump aides have avoided serving their sentences thanks to clemency from Trump — which Trump granted to 7 of the 11 allies — or have had their sentences reduced by pleading guilty and/or cutting deals with investigators.

Some of the crimes had nothing to do with Trump or these individuals’ service to him. But the total of their sentences, both realized and unrealized, is staggering. Those convicted include three top campaign officials, two top White House officials, two former business employees, several campaign and transition advisers, and Trump’s longest-serving informal political adviser.

The most high-profile among them was the man whom Bannon effectively replaced in the 2016 campaign hierarchy, Paul Manafort. The Trump campaign chairman was sentenced to a total of 120 months in prison in two separate cases involving tax and bank fraud, and illegal lobbying — though with overlapping sentences he was due to serve 7.5 years — before Trump pardoned him.

George Nader was also sentenced to 10 years in prison for child sex charges. Nader’s crime was unrelated to Trump, but he was an informal adviser to Trump’s campaign, including being wrapped up in some key episodes in the Russia investigation. He came into that role with a rap sheet that included a 1991 child pornography conviction in the United States and a 2003 conviction in the Czech Republic for soliciting sex from underage boys.

Longtime informal Trump political adviser Roger Stone was sentenced to three years and four months in prison in 2020 for impeding Congress’s investigation of Russian election interference, before Trump commuted his sentence and then pardoned him. And Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen got three years for financial fraud and illegally paying off a women who accused Trump of affairs during the 2016 campaign — a crime for which the Justice Department implicated Trump but never charged him.

Lying to investigators in the Russia probe also landed former Trump deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates and foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos in jail. They pleaded guilty and were sentenced to 45 and 14 days, respectively.

Another lengthy sentence was handed down in the case of Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), who was the first House Republican to endorse Trump in 2016 and later served on his White House transition team. He got 26 months for insider trading (not related to his work for Trump) and lying to investigators before Trump also pardoned him.

Two others pleaded guilty to various charges but avoided prison sentences in part thanks to Trump.

Elliot Broidy had served in various high-profile fundraising roles for Trump’s 2016 campaign and the Republican National Committee under Trump before he pleaded guilty to illegally lobbying the Trump administration for Chinese and Malaysian interests. Trump pardoned him before he was to be sentenced.

Similarly, Trump White House national security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to investigators before Attorney General William P. Barr, in an extraordinary move, sought to withdraw the case. Trump also pardoned Flynn, rendering the case moot.

Bannon’s four-month sentence for misdemeanor contempt of Congress is similar to the one now faced by Allan Weisselberg, the longtime chief financial officer for the Trump Organization. Weisselberg cut a deal with prosecutors in August, pleading guilty to more than a dozen felonies and agreeing to serve five months in jail (along with five years’ probation). The sentence won’t officially be handed down until after the Trump Organization trial concludes, given that the deal is contingent upon his cooperation.

Bannon will remain free for now, pending an appeal. But if his sentence remains in place and Weisselberg ultimately receives his five-month sentence, it would bring the total prison sentences for Trump allies in recent years to 29 years and five months — or nearly 27 years if you exclude the Manafort sentences that were to overlap.

Through his pardons, Trump knocked nearly 11 years off those totals. And that probably would have been more, had Broidy and Flynn been sentenced, and the original Bannon case been brought to trial. The only figures who didn’t receive pardons were Nader and three Trump aides who also agreed to testify in investigations involving Trump.

If you exclude Collins and Nader (given their lesser proximity to Trump and unrelated crimes), Trump more than halved the amount of time his allies were due to serve, from 15 years down to about five.

And if you focus only on those who didn’t agree to cooperate in investigations involving Trump, the former president turned 13.5 years in sentences into about three years.