UPDATED 12/23, 8:07 p.m. ET: Donald Trump continues his pardon spree as his White House exit quickly approaches.
On Wednesday night, the lame-duck president issued three commutations and 26 more pardons to some of his closest loyalists, including former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, longtime associate Roger Stone, as well as Charles Kushner, the father of Trump's son-in-law/adviser Jared Kushner.
Manafort and Stone were among those who were indicted in Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The former was sentenced to more than seven years in prison for multiple crimes, including tax evasion, bank fraud, obstruction of justice, and unsanctioned lobbying. Stone received a three-year prison sentence, which Trump commuted in July, for making false statements, witness tampering, and obstruction.
Kushner served a two-year prison sentence after pleading guilty in 2004 to illegal campaign contributions, witness tampering, and tax evasion.
"Since completing his sentence in 2006, Mr. Kushner has been devoted to important philanthropic organizations and causes, such as Saint Barnabas Medical Center and United Cerebral Palsy," the White House wrote in a statement. "This record of reform and charity overshadows Mr. Kushner’s conviction and 2 year sentence for preparing false tax returns, witness retaliation, and making false statements to the FEC."
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As many expected, Donald Trump has begun issuing a series of pardons ahead of the end of his presidential term. On Tuesday, the lame duck announced pardons for several Trump loyalists, war criminals, and other questionable characters.
According to CNN, Trump is pardoning his former campaign aide George Papadopoulos and Dutch lawyer Alex Van der Zwaan, both of whom pled guilty to lying to investigators during the Russia investigation spearheaded by Robert Mueller. Both Papadopoulos and Van der Zwaan spent less than a month behind bars.
Trump’s announcement also included forgiving two Border Patrol agents who were convicted for shooting an unarmed undocumented immigrant and hiding it in 2006, as well as early Trump supporters and former US congressmen Duncan Hunter and Chris Collins. Hunter was sentenced to less than a year for misuse of over $200,000 in campaign funds, while Collins is currently in federal prison in Florida after pleading guilty to “one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and one count of making a false statement.”
Trump also pardoned four Blackwater guards who were sentenced for the brutal murder of more than a dozen unarmed Iraqi civilians, a move that immediately garnered criticism.
In addition to those pardons, Trump also forgave “several people convicted of non-violent drug crimes serving lengthy sentences” under the recommendation of Alice Johnson, who Kim Kardashian helped receive clemency in 2018, CNN reports.
These are the first of what is expected to be a larger list of pardons by Trump before he leaves office next month.