Trump Pardons More Cronies
Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, and Charles Kushner are among last night's lucky recipients.
CNN (“Trump issues 26 new pardons, including for Stone, Manafort and Charles Kushner“):
President Donald Trump on Wednesday evening announced 26 new pardons, including for longtime ally Roger Stone, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner’s father, Charles.
The pardons extend Trump’s streak of wielding his clemency powers for criminals who are loyalists, well-connected or adjacent to his family. While all presidents issue controversial pardons at the end of their terms, Trump appears to be moving at a faster pace than his predecessors, demonstrating little inhibition at rewarding his friends and allies using one of the most unrestricted powers of his office.
The pardons of Manafort and Stone reward two of the most high-profile and widely condemned former advisers of the President, both of whom were indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller, went to trial and were convicted by juries of multiple crimes.
Manafort, who is serving home confinement, admitted his crimes and initially agreed to cooperate with Mueller then lied to prosecutors, while Stone never cooperated after lying to Congress to protect the President. Manafort spent close to two years in prison for bank and tax fraud, illegal foreign lobbying and witness tampering conspiracies before being released because of the Covid-19 pandemic, while Stone’s sentence for obstruction of Congress and threatening a witness was commuted by Trump earlier this year days before he was set to surrender.
We all expected the pardons of his cronies. Frankly, it’s not even unusual for normal Presidents.
This one is particularly disgusting:
Charles Kushner, meanwhile, had been prosecuted by then-US Attorney for New Jersey Chris Christie in the early 2000s for tax evasion, witness tampering and illegal campaign contributions.
He eventually pleaded guilty to 16 counts of tax evasion, one count of retaliating against a federal witness — his brother-in-law — and another count of lying to the Federal Election Commission.
Christie in early 2019 went on to say that Charles Kushner committed “one of the most loathsome, disgusting crimes” he had prosecuted, referring to an elaborate revenge plot that the older Kushner hatched in 2003 in order to target his brother-in-law, William Schulder, a former employee turned witness for federal prosecutors in their case against Kushner.
As a part of the plot, Kushner hired a prostitute to lure Schulder into having sex in a Bridgewater, New Jersey, motel room as a hidden camera rolled.
A tape of the encounter was then sent to Kushner’s sister and Schulder’s wife, Esther. Ultimately, the intimidation stunt failed. The Schulders brought the video to prosecutors, who tracked down the woman and threatened her with arrest. She promptly turned on Kushner.
What a despicable human being.
I’m not even sure what to make of this one:
Also included in Trump’s pardon list Wednesday evening is former California GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter’s wife, Margaret, just one day after Trump granted Duncan Hunter a full pardon. Margaret Hunter had pleaded guilty last year to conspiring “knowingly and willingly” to convert campaign funds for personal use.
Was the one-day delay intentional? Or just an oversight.
Regardless, while pardoning political allies is hardly novel—it’s a bipartisan tradition—Trump is unusual in that he has used the power almost exclusively in that manner:
Of the 65 pardons and commutations that Mr. Trump had granted before Wednesday, 60 have gone to petitioners who had a personal tie to Mr. Trump or who helped his political aims, according to a tabulation by the Harvard Law School professor Jack Goldsmith. Although similar figures do not exist for previous presidents, legal experts say that those presidents granted a far lower percentage to those who could help them personally and politically.
Mr. Trump’s use of his powers to grant clemency to allies and supporters drew criticism even from some Republicans. “This is rotten to the core,” said Senator Ben Sasse, Republican of Nebraska.