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Lil Wayne, Kodak Black among pop culture figures granted clemency on Trump's final day in office

Sonia Rao
Washington Post

Rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black were among those offered clemency by President Donald Trump on his final day in office, the White House announced early Wednesday. Also pardoned in the entertainment sphere was Death Row Records co-founder Michael "Harry-O" Harris.

Lil Wayne, 38, hadn't yet been sentenced after pleading guilty in December to carrying a loaded firearm while traveling on a private jet. The rapper, whose real name is Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., was prohibited from owning guns because of a past felony conviction and faced up to 10 years in prison. When Carter was charged in November, his attorney, Howard Srebnick, cited an appellate dissenting opinion written by Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett arguing that permanently barring a nondangerous felon from gun ownership violated the Second Amendment.

Lil Wayne in 2018

Administration officials previously told The Washington Post that Trump was considering Carter for a pardon. The rapper had expressed his support for Trump just days before the November election, sparking controversy when he tweeted, "Just had a great meeting with @realdonaldtrump," along with a photo of the two men. Carter also mentioned the "Platinum Plan," which the Trump campaign described at the time as an effort to "increase access to capital in black communities by almost $500 billion over four years" (and on which the rapper Ice Cube reportedly consulted).

Kodak Black, sentenced in November 2019 to nearly four years in prison, also received a pardon on Wednesday. The rapper, who changed his legal name from Dieuson Octave to Bill Kapri, had pleaded guilty to weapons charges stemming from his arrest at the Rolling Loud Festival in May 2019. In a court filing, he admitted to lying about his criminal history while acquiring firearms.

Other charges against Kapri, 23, have involved kidnapping, drug possession and sexual assault, with some still pending. In April 2019, the Associated Press reported that he had been charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct for allegedly assaulting a high school student after a 2016 concert in Florence, S.C., and that he faced a maximum sentence of 30 years.

The U.S. district judge who handed down Kapri's weapons-related sentence of 46 months reportedly told him at the time: "Young people do stupid things and I normally give them a break for that. The problem is that you have been doing stupid things since 15."

Harris, 59, was granted clemency Tuesday after Snoop Dogg worked with activists to advocate for the record label co-founder, according to the Daily Beast. The publication spoke with Alice Marie Johnson - the criminal justice reform activist whose life sentence was commuted by Trump in 2018 at the urging of Kim Kardashian West, among others - who said she had spoken with senior advisers Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner about Harris, who has served nearly 30 years on attempted-murder and drug-trafficking charges.

Harris, whose sentence was supposed to last through late 2028, helped finance the storied (and now defunct) West Coast label known for signing Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur.

Johnson noted that, despite Snoop Dogg's criticism of Trump, the rapper is "appreciative" of what Trump has done "in terms of getting folks released from prison."