US President Donald Trump has granted pardons to former campaign manager Paul Manafort, political operative Roger Stone and son-in-law Jared Kushner’s father, as part of 26 clemencies ahead of Christmas holidays.
Manafort managed Trump’s campaign in the summer of 2016, but resigned after media reports of his lobbying work in Ukraine, based on the infamous “black ledger” leaked by Kiev. In 2019, he was sentenced to 90 months in prison in two federal cases brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller under the aegis of the ‘Russiagate’ probe – neither of which had anything to do with the election, but were based on his alleged tax evasion and money laundering from the lobbying operation.
BREAKING: Pres. Trump pardons Paul Manafort, Roger Stone & Charles Kushner. pic.twitter.com/3UWq5gUe6B
Stone too was caught up in ‘Russiagate,’ with Mueller infamously sending a tactical team to arrest him in a pre-dawn raid, with CNN cameras present. His sentences for obstruction of justice, witness tampering, and making false statements to Congress – a total of 40 months – were already commuted by Trump in July.
Charles Kushner, the father of Trump’s son-in-law and White House senior adviser Jared, was not a victim of ‘Russiagate.’ He was convicted of illegal campaign contributions, tax evasion and witness tampering back in 2005, serving a 2-year sentence under a plea deal with then-US attorney Chris Christie, later governor of New Jersey. His illegal donations were to Democrats.
Kushner’s son Jared married Trump’s daughter Ivanka, another White House adviser, in 2009.
On Tuesday, Trump issued 15 pardons and five commutations, including to several former Republican lawmakers, four Blackwater mercenaries convicted of killing civilians in Iraq, and two people convicted of process crimes during the Russiagate investigations, George Papadopoulos and Alex Van Der Zwaan.
Among his other pardons on Wednesday was Margaret Hunter, wife of former California Congressman Duncan Hunter – pardoned Tuesday – who pleaded guilty to diverting campaign funds to personal use, along with her husband.
Another former member of Congress pardoned on Wednesday, Mark Siljander, had pleaded guilty in 2010 to acting as an unregistered foreign agent, after taking a donation from the Islamic American Relief Agency.
The rest of the list doesn’t appear to be political, focusing on former police officers, local officials and people harshly sentenced for first-time drug offenses, in line with Trump’s 2018 First Step Act penal reform.
WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden were conspicuously absent, despite rampant speculation and a growing social media campaign for Trump to pardon both.
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