President Trump continued his pre-Christmas forgiveness blitz on Wednesday, pardoning his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, his longtime associate Roger Stone, and Charles Kushner, the father of his son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Both Manafort, 71, and Stone, 68 — whose sentence Trump had already commuted in July — were convicted as a result of investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Trump has now pardoned four people convicted in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe including former national security adviser Michael Flynn and 2016 campaign aide George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.
Manafort, a longtime Republican aide and lobbyist, had been sentenced to seven years in prison for tax fraud and other crimes relating to his work in Ukraine. The White House said that Manafort’s convictions were “premised on the Russian collusion hoax.”
He was released from prison in May because of coronavirus concerns and was under home confinement. He thanked the outgoing president in a tweet, writing that “words cannot fully convey how grateful we are” and praising his administration.
Stone was convicted in November 2019 of lying to lawmakers also investigating Russian election interference and was spared a three year and four month prison stint when Trump commuted his sentence a day before he was due to begin serving time.
“Due to prosecutorial misconduct by Special Counsel Mueller’s team, Mr. Stone was treated very unfairly,” the White House said in a statement.
Kushner, 60, a wealthy New Jersey real estate developer who Trump knew from industry circles, was convicted in 2005 of illegal campaign contributions, tax evasion and witness tampering as part of a salacious family scandal. His son Jared, a Trump adviser, married first daughter Ivanka Trump in 2009.
In a 2004 plea agreement, Kushner admitted to hiring a prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law, filming the tryst and sending the tape to his sister. The case, which was prosecuted by then-US attorney Chris Christie, resulted in Kushner serving two years behind bars.
In all, Trump granted full pardons to 26 people on Wednesday night and commuted part or all of the sentences of three others, the White House said.
Also on the list was Margaret Hunter, the estranged wife of former US Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), who was granted a pardon on Tuesday. Both had pleaded guilty to stealing campaign funds.
Several people convicted of non-violent drug crimes, including some who served several years in prison, also received pardons.
Among them was Topeka Sam, a New York prison reform advocate who, along with Kim Kardashian, had rallied for Trump to commute the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson. Johnson, who had been serving a 21-year sentence, was freed in 2018 and granted a full pardon by Trump in August.
Trump also pardoned Rebekah Charleston, a former sex trafficking victim from Texas who served 13 months in prison for tax evasion and whose bid for clemency was supported by the officer who arrested her.
His pardon spree began Tuesday night, when he granted clemency to 20 convicted felons, including three former GOP congressmen, four military contractors convicted in the massacre of 17 Iraqi civilians in 2007 and two former Border Patrol agents who covered up the shooting of an unarmed illegal immigrant.
Papadopoulos and Dutch lawyer Alex van der Zwaan, who lied to investigators in the Mueller probe, were also granted clemency Tuesday.
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