US President Donald Trump today issued pardons and sentence commutations for 29 people, including former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, long-time ally Roger Stone and Charles Kushner, the father of his son-in-law.
It brings to 49 the number of people who Trump in the past two days has granted clemency either through pardons or sentence commutations.
The pardons of Manafort and Stone, who months earlier had his sentence commuted by Trump, underscore the President's determination to use the power of his office in his final weeks to unravel the results of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election interference and to come to the aid of associates he feels were wrongly pursued.
Yesterday, Trump pardoned two other people convicted in Mueller's investigation, including former campaign associate George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. He also pardoned former members of Congress who were early supporters and former government contractors convicted in the killings of Iraqi civilians.
Manafort had been sentenced to more than seven years in prison for financial crimes related to his work in Ukraine and was among the first people charged as part of Mueller's investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. He was released to home confinement last May because of coronavirus concerns in the federal prison system.
Manafort, in a tweet, thanked Trump and lavished praise on the outgoing president, declaring that history would show he had accomplished more than any of his predecessors.
Charles Kushner is a wealthy real estate executive who pleaded guilty years ago to tax evasion and making illegal campaign donations. Trump and the elder Kushner knew each other from real estate circles and their children were married in 2009.
Iraqis expressed outrage and sadness after Trump yesterday delivered pardons for the four Blackwater security contractors who were convicted of murder and manslaughter six years ago for the Nisur Square massacre.
The four, all former US servicemen, opened fire unprovoked on the crowded square in 2007, leaving at least 14 civilians dead — though Iraqi authorities put the toll as high as 17 — while wounding dozens more and deeply souring US-Iraqi relations.
Former US general Mark Hertling called the Blackwater pardon "egregious and disgusting".
According to an analysis by Harvard University law professor Jack Goldsmith and an assistant, Matthew Gluck, at least 42 of the 65 pardons Trump has issued so far were "to advance a political agenda", while only five were recommended by the official White House pardons lawyer.
Trump is believed to be weighing other pardons, including for members of his family, his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and potentially himself.
- With news.com.au