Dwayne “Lil Wayne” Carter was among the last-minute 143 pardons and commutations approved by Donald Trump before his presidential term came to an end. The rapper will not have to serve time in prison for his guilty plea in a federal gun charge.
Many fans of Lil Wayne wondered if the reprieve from Trump was directly the result of the rapper endorsing the divisive Republican politician right before the 2020 general election. Especially, considering there were reports that people were paying up to $2 million to get clemency from the president.
According to Trump-connected lawyer Bradford Cohen of Florida, Wayne’s support for the president’s re-election campaign was based on his own personal connection to the MAGA leader and not an attempt to avoid jail time. Cohen apparently set up and attended the meeting between Trump and Wayne which led to the infamous endorsement photo of the two men that was posted on Twitter.
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’s] in the entertainment world,” Cohen told the New York Times. “He’s got a style that’s similar in terms of the way that he carries himself, and a lot of rappers and people in the industry relate to that.”
The Times also reports:
Mr. Cohen said that Lil Wayne’s looming gun charge, which had been under investigation for nearly a year, was not the reason for his pre-election summit or support for Mr. Trump. But he acknowledged that it may have ultimately been a factor in the pardon decision, as thousands lobbied for last-minute clemency.
Last November, Wayne was charged with possession of a loaded, gold-plated .45-caliber handgun on a private plane. Attorney Howard Srebnick, who represented Carter, claimed that the gold-plated firearm is a collector’s piece that was given to Wayne as a Father’s Day gift.
The Young Money frontman’s previous 2009 gun-related conviction in New York state made it illegal for him to carry a firearm and ammunition. Authorities say they also discovered cocaine, ecstasy, and oxycodone during the December 2019 search. No drug charges were filed. He was scheduled to be sentenced in the federal case on January 28 and faced up to 10 years in prison.
Wayne’s nearly hour-long sitdown with Trump apparently took place in late October, months before he pled guilty in December for the gun charge in Florida but ten months after officers searched Wayne’s plane at Opa Locka Executive Airport. Cohen said he started the pardon application process immediately after Lil Wayne was charged in November.
Trump’s history of racist/xenophobic rhetoric and policies (e.g., the travel ban against Muslim-majority countries and telling extremist far-right groups like the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by”) caused some people to turn on the “Lollipop” performer after he endorsed the president. Wayne’s apparent genuine support for the former reality show star may complicate the narrative that he only stood by Trump to ensure he would not face prison time.
Cohen’s suggestion that Wayne and Trump have a “very strong connection” also seems to align with Wayne’s previously stated views on the issues of Black Lives Matter and white supremacy. Both Lil Wayne and Donald Trump have expressed disinterest in the BLM movement for racial justice and both have downplayed the existence of systemic racism in America.