WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Wednesday night issued 26 pardons, including to his son-in-law Jared Kushner’s father, and to his 2016 campaign manager Paul Manafort and Republican political operative Roger Stone.
Manafort, 70, was among the first in Trump’s inner circle to face charges that were brought on by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Manafort thanked Trump on Twitter for sparing him from serving the bulk of his 7 and a 1/2-year prison sentence.
“Words cannot fully convey how grateful we are,” the long-time Republican operative wrote. Manafort was released earlier this year from prison due to concerns over the coronavirus.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s office is still seeking to prosecute Manafort for New York state crimes.
A judge had barred DA Cyrus Vance Jr. from pursuing that case to trial because of a claim that it would violate double jeopardy rules barring being prosecuted twice for the same conduct. Vance is appealing that decision.
“This action underscores the urgent need to hold Mr. Manafort accountable for his crimes against the People of New York as alleged in our indictment, and we will continue to pursue our appellate remedies,” said Danny Frost, a spokesman for Vance.
Stone was convicted in November 2019 for lying under oath during a U.S. federal investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Earlier this year, Trump commuted Stone’s three year and four-month-long sentence less than a week before the Republican operative was due to begin his prison term.
In July, the White House called Stone “a victim of the Russia hoax,” and someone who “would be put at serious medical risk” from the coronavirus if he was imprisoned.
Roger Stone, former campaign adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump, arrives at the federal courthouse where he is set to be sentenced, in Washington, U.S., February 20, 2020.
Leah Millis | Reuters
The real estate mogul Charles Kushner, whose son Jared Kushner is a senior White House advisor, was sentenced to two years in prison after pleading guilty in 2004 to 18 counts of tax evasion, witness tampering and making unlawful campaign donations.
Kushner, among other things, had hired a prostitute to lure his own brother-in-law William Schulder into a sexual tryst, which was secretly videotaped, and then sent to the man’s wife, the sister of Charles Kushner. The stunt was designed to intimidate Schulder from acting as a witness in an investigation of Kushner for making illegal campaign contributions.
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a key Trump ally who prosecuted Charles Kushner, last year said in an interview that Kushner had committed “one of the most loathsome, disgusting crimes that I prosecuted when was U.S. attorney.”
Trump also pardoned Margaret Hunter, the estranged wife of former Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., who pled guilty to charges of misusing campaign funds for personal expenses.
Duncan Hunter, who was convicted in the same case of the same crimes, had been pardoned the night before by Trump in a first wave of pardons by the president, who refuses to concede he lost the presidential election to Joe Biden.
Trump on Tuesday issued pardons to 15 people, including two men convicted as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, and four former Blackwater USA guards who were convicted in the killings of 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians in Baghdad in 2007.
Others who received pardons included ex-GOP Rep. Chris Collins of Buffalo, New York, who illegally tipped of his son to a failed drug trial in a pharmaceuticals company.
Trump also commuted all or some of the criminal sentences of five other people, as the president faces his last month in office.