U.S. President Donald Trump has issued another wave of pardons to a group of close allies convicted for past crimes, including Roger Stone and Paul Manafort — both of whom were implicated in special counsel Robert Mueller‘s probe of Russian election interference.
Also on Wednesday’s staggering list of pardons was Charles Kushner, the real estate developer father of Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner.
Twenty-three others were granted full pardons by Trump, who just a day earlier had pardoned 15 more people, including former Republican congressmen and two others tied to the Russia investigation. The president has also commuted part or all of the sentences for eight other people, three of them on Wednesday.
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Trump had already commuted the 40-month jail sentence of Stone — a Republican strategist and loyal ally of the president who worked with the 2016 campaign — in July of this year. Stone had been found guilty of lying to investigators and Congress, as well as witness tampering and other criminal counts related to Mueller’s probe, in January 2019.
Manafort, Trump’s one-time campaign finance chair during the 2016 election, was convicted on tax and bank fraud in 2018 and plead guilty to other crimes. He initially agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s team, only to have his plea deal voided after being accused of lying to investigators.
In a series of tweets, Manafort — who was released to home confinement in May due to the coronavirus pandemic — thanked Trump and lavished praise on the outgoing president, declaring that history would show he had “accomplished more in 4 years than any of your modern-day predecessors.”
A statement from the White House listing Trump’s pardons claimed both Manafort and Stone had been treated unfairly by law enforcement and prosecutors. Manafort’s conviction, specifically, was “a result of blatant prosecutorial overreach” due to the “Russian collusion hoax,” according to the statement.
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“Mr. Manafort has endured years of unfair treatment and is one of the most prominent victims of what has been revealed to be perhaps the greatest witch hunt in American history,” the White House said.
The elder Kushner was convicted in 2005 of illegal campaign contributions and witness tampering, among other crimes, and served a 24-month sentence. The White House pointed to his “record of reform and charity” work in the years since his release in 2006.
Trump and the elder Kushner knew each other from real estate circles and their children were married in 2009.
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On Tuesday, Trump pardoned George Papadopoulos and Alex van der Zwaan, who were also implicated in Mueller’s investigation. Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about his contacts with Russian agents in the run-up to the 2016 campaign, and served a brief jail sentence.
Four former government contractors found guilty in connection to the massacre of 17 Iraqi civilians during the Iraq War in 2007 were also pardoned Tuesday, as well as three former Republican congressman who had been convicted on various corruption charges. Those politicians had been some of Trump’s earliest supporters in his bid for the White House.
Last month, Trump also pardoned his first national security advisor Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and others about his own contacts with Russia.
More to come…
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