Trump pardons 26 people, including father of son-in-law Jared Kushner
Outgoing United States President Donald Trump on Wednesday pardoned 26 of his allies, including the father of his son-in-law Jared Kushner, the manager of the 2016 campaign Paul Manafort, and his longtime aide Roger Stone. In addition to the 26 people, he commuted the sentences of three others. A day earlier, he pardoned 15 people and rewarded five others with a truncated prison term.
Kushner Sr. was charged with tax evasion, and other crimes
In 2004, Charles Kushner, a real estate magnate, was sentenced to two years in prison on charges of tax evasion, campaign finance offenses, and witness tampering. To rein in his brother-in-law, who was helping authorities, Kushner Sr. hired a prostitute to seduce him, videotaped their encounter, and sent the evidence to his own sister. He invited charges of witness tampering for this.
Ally convicted in connection to Russia probe was pardoned
Stone became another ally to get a pre-Christmas present from the outgoing President. In July, the Republican helped Stone by commuting his sentence. Convicted for lying to Congress seven times and for obstructing House inquiry into Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 polls, Stone was to spend three years and four months in jail. But he always maintained he was innocent.
Manafort had been convicted for serious crimes
Manafort, who also got pardoned, was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for crimes ranging from unregistered lobbying to tax fraud, from bank fraud to money laundering. In pardoning Manafort and Stone, Trump dismissed the Mueller investigation into Russia's alleged involvement in the elections, that sent him to the White House. He called it "Russian collusion hoax," "prosecutorial misconduct" and "injustice."
Couple who pleaded guilty for misusing funds was also rewarded
Margaret Hunter, the estranged wife of Duncan D. Hunter, the former Representative for California's 50th congressional district, was also "forgiven" by Trump. The couple had admitted they misused campaign money for personal indulgences. Duncan Hunter was pardoned on Tuesday along with 14 others. The earlier batch also included Trump's allies and former government contractors convicted for the 2007 Baghdad massacre, wherein 17 Iraqi civilians had died.
Trump's former lawyer yet to be granted clemency
A calculation by Harvard Law School professor Jack Goldsmith found that of 65 pardons and commutations that Trump signed before Wednesday, 60 were either linked to him or were those who helped his political career, reports NYT. Trump has so far not pardoned Manafort's deputy Rick Gates and his former lawyer Michael Cohen. Both were convicted in the Russia probe and had co-operated with the prosecutors.
'Trump is bailing out rich white men'
Trump's latest spree of pardons sparked outrage, unsurprisingly. Executive Director of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics said, "In pardoning Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, and Charles Kushner, President Trump has made it clear that he believes the purpose of the pardon is to bail out rich white men connected to him." The Republican Senator of Nebraska, Ben Sasse, said, "This is rotten to the core."
'Our blood is cheaper than water'
The pardons of Tuesday, especially those given to Blackwater security contractors who opened fire on the crowded Nisur Square in Iraq, had also sparked criticism. The former classmate of a medical student who died in the massacre told AFP, "As far as they are concerned, our blood is cheaper than water and our demands for justice and accountability are merely a nuisance."