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Monday, December 09, 2019

Trump Pardons Paul Manafort, Charles Kushner, And Roger Stone

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

On Wednesday night, the White House released a new round of names of 26 people who President Donald Trump has given presidential pardons, in addition to three people who received commutations of their sentences for crimes.

Most notable of the people receiving pardons were former Trump Campaign Chair Paul Manafort, Trump ally Roger Stone, and Charles Kushner. Kushner is the father of Jared Kushner, the president's son in law.


Manafort and Stone were charged as a part of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, which the president is clearly seeking to undo. But Manafort's crimes included conduct far beyond the scope of the 2016 election. He was found guilty of various financial crimes dating back and years and for illegally concealing his work as an agent of Ukraine. He also obstructed the Mueller investigation itself and lied to the FBI.

Stone, meanwhile, was found guilty of lying to Congress, obstructing an investigation, and tampering with a witness as a part of the Russia investigation. This last charge involved pressuring his friend Randy Credico to lie to investigators and threatening his dog. Trump had already commuted Stone's sentence for this crime during the summer so that he didn't serve any prison time.

The White House claimed that the prosecutors acted unfairly against Manafort and Stone, but no evidence of such allegations has emerged. In the Mueller Report, the special counsel argued that Trump's repeated suggestions during the course of the investigation that figures including Stone and Manafort might receive pardons could constitute a criminal offense of obstruction of justice on the president's part. If this line of argument were successful, Trump's choice to in fact pardon them could count as further evidence of this crime. He has pardoned other figures found guilty in the investigation as well, including George Papadopoulos, Michael Flynn, and Alexander van der Zwaan.

Charles Kushner was convicted for "preparing false tax returns, witness retaliation, and making false statements to the FEC." He was sentenced to a two-year sentence as a result, which he finished in 2006. He was charged in the case by Trump ally Chris Christie, a fact that has caused tension between the former prosecutor and the president's son-in-law.

The White House said that former United States Attorney Brett Tolman, along with the American Conservative Union's Matt Schlapp and David Safavian recommended the pardon for the elder Kushner. It conspicuously did not say that Jared Kushner had advocated for his father's pardon. The elder Kushner has also been a major donor to the president.

"Mr. Kushner pled guilty, he admitted the crimes," Christie said recently in an interview with Margaret Hoover. "It's one of the most loathsome, disgusting crimes that I prosecuted when I was US Attorney, and I was US Attorney in New Jersey, Margaret, so we had some loathsome and disgusting crime going on there."

Trump also pardoned Margaret Hunter, the wife of former California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter. They were both convicted of misusing his campaign funds. When the charges first emerged, the congressman attempted to pin the blame on his wife, and she admitted to her crimes. An early endorser of the president, Duncan Hunter was pardoned Tuesday night. Many noted that it seemed deeply unfair for the husband to receive a pardon and not the wife, which may have led to the additional pardon on Wednesday. Margaret Hunter has filed for divorce.

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