On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump granted full pardons to former campaign manager Paul Manafort and former adviser Roger Stone, sweeping away the key convictions made during Russia’s long-running election probe.
Trump also issued a full pardon to Charles Kushner, a real estate developer and father of Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
It was the second wave of pardons Trump has issued in two days. The announcement came shortly after Trump arrived in Palm Beach, Florida, for the holiday season, with Jared Kushner on the Air Force One flight with him.
In total, Trump on Wednesday issued full pardons to 26 people and commuted part or all of the sentence to three more people.
Ahead of the end of his term on January 20, Trump has now granted full pardon to four key figures from US Special Adviser Robert Mueller’s inquiry into Russian interference during the 2016 presidential campaign.
In addition to Manafort and Stone, Trump has pardoned former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former adviser George Papadopoulos.
Manhattan’s District Attorney’s Office, which has tried to prosecute Manafort in New York for mortgage fraud and other alleged crimes, said it would continue to appeal its case, which was dismissed on double grounds of risk.
“This action underscores the urgent need to hold Mr. Manafort accountable for his crimes against the people of New York alleged in our indictment, and we will continue to pursue our appeals actions,” said Danny Frost, a spokesman for the office.
Manafort’s pardon spared the longtime Republican operator from serving most of his 7-1 / 2-year sentence.
Manafort, 70, was among the first in Trump’s inner circle to face accusations made by Mueller as part of his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
In a statement issued by his lawyer, Manafort expressed his appreciation for Trump.
“Mr. President, my family and I thank you humbly for the presidential grace you gave me. Words cannot fully convey how grateful we are,” he said.
Mr. President, my family and I thank you humbly for the presidential pleasure you gave me. Words cannot fully convey how grateful we are.
– Paul Manafort (@PaulManafort) December 24, 2020
Stone was convicted in November 2019 by a jury in Washington for lying under oath to lawmakers who also investigated Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Trump commuted his sentence in July, a day before Stone would begin serving a three-year, four-month term. Stone, in a statement, thanked Trump for “completely erasing the criminal convictions I was subjected to in a Soviet exhibition process against politically motivated accusations.”
Charles Kushner was sentenced to two years in prison after pleading guilty in 2004 to 18 counts of tax evasion, testimony and making illegal campaign donations.
In an unusual twist, the man who prosecuted Charles Kushner was Chris Christie, now the former governor of New Jersey, who has also been an adviser to Trump.
Christie was quoted by CNN as saying that Charles Kushner’s case was “one of the most heinous, heinous crimes” he has ever prosecuted. During the case, Charles Kushner admitted to anointing his brother-in-law, who had collaborated with prosecutors, by hiring a prostitute to have sex with him in a motel room and then sending a secretly recorded video of the meeting to the man’s wife, Charles Kushner’s own sister.