President Donald Trump on Wednesday pardoned more than two dozen people, including longtime confidant Roger Stone, former campaign manager Paul Manafort and Charles Kushner, the father of his son-in-law.
Trump previously commuted Stone’s sentence in July of this year but on Wednesday offered him a full pardon, citing his age and health conditions. Manafort, who was sentenced to 47 months last year on fraud and tax charges, was also offered a full pardon.
The White House alleged "prosecutorial overreach" in Manafort's case and "potential political bias" in Stone's jury trial. In total, Trump pardoned 26 people and commuted part or all of the sentences of three others.
Stone was convicted last year of making false statements, obstruction and witness tampering as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. The Justice Department initially recommended a seven-to-nine-year sentence, but eventually backpedaled after Attorney General William Barr became involved.
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That decision led to the abrupt resignation of all four prosecutors on Stone's case. Later, one of the prosecutors, Aaron Zelinsky, told the House Judiciary Committee, "I have never seen political influence play a role in prosecutorial decision making, with one exception: United States v. Roger Stone."
Manafort was released from prison earlier this year to serve the remainder of his sentence in home confinement after concerns regarding the former campaign manager's health arose. He had been serving at Federal Correctional Institution Loretto before his release amid the coronavirus pandemic.
He tweeted a thank you to Trump on Wednesday evening.
Manafort's legal fight may not be over, though. Prosecutors for Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance are still fighting in court for the ability to file state criminal charges against Manafort, who was indicted by Vance in 2019. State judges ruled that the charges violated state laws regarding double jeopardy, but Vance’s team is still fighting those rulings.
A spokesperson for Vance told NBC News on Wednesday, “This action underscores the urgent need to hold Mr. Manafort accountable for his crimes against the People of New York as alleged in our indictment, and we will continue to pursue our appellate remedies."
Charles Kushner, the father of Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, pleaded guilty to 18 counts of tax evasion, witness tampering and making illegal campaign donations in 2005 and completed his sentence in 2006 after 14 months in prison. The real estate executive's case was prosecuted by former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, also a longtime Trump ally, when Christie served as a federal prosecutor.
In a 2019 interview, Christie called the case "one of the most loathsome, disgusting crimes that I prosecuted when I was U.S. Attorney."
Sen. Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican, slammed Trump's pardons for "another tranche of felons" on Wednesday as "rotten to the core."
On Tuesday, Trump pardoned more than a dozen people, including former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, who was sentenced to 14 days in a federal lockup and one year of supervised release in September 2018 for lying to investigators in connection with special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.
Former GOP congressmen Duncan Hunter and Chris Collins also made the president’s list on Tuesday, both men being among the first Republicans to back Trump for the presidency.
Hunter was set to begin an 11-month federal prison sentence in January for one count of misusing campaign funds. Collins was sentenced to 26 months after he pleaded guilty last year to conspiring to commit securities fraud and making false statements to the FBI. Both men were given full pardons.
Trump pardoned Hunter's wife, Margaret Hunter, on Wednesday.
Here's the full list of pardons and commutations granted on Wednesday:
Paul Manafort — Manafort was convicted of eight felony counts in Virginia in 2018 and entered into a plea agreement in a separate case to 10 charges, including three counts of failing to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts, and seven counts of bank fraud and bank fraud conspiracy. He was given a full pardon.
Roger Stone — Stone was convicted last year on charges of making false statements, obstruction and witness tampering. His sentence was commuted earlier this year and he was given a full pardon Wednesday.
Charles Kushner — Kushner pleaded guilty to 18 counts of tax evasion, witness tampering and making illegal campaign donations in 2005 and completed his sentence in 2006. He was given a full pardon.
Margaret Hunter — Hunter pleaded guilty last year to one count of conspiracy to misuse campaign funds for personal expenses and was sentenced to three years’ probation. She was given a full pardon a day after her husband, former congressman Duncan Hunter, was also pardoned.
James Kassouf — Kassouf pleaded guilty in 1989 to one count of filing a false tax return and was given a full pardon.
Mary McCarty — McCarty pleaded guilty to one count of honest services fraud and was given a full pardon.
Christopher Wade — Wade served two years’ probation after pleading guilty to various cyber-crimes and was granted a full pardon.
Christopher II X, formerly Christopher Anthony Bryant — Bryant is a former drug addict who was convicted of several cocaine charges between the 1970s and 1990s and was granted a full pardon.
Cesar Lozada — Lozada served 14 months for a 2004 charge of conspiring to distribute marijuana and was granted a full pardon.
Joseph Martin Stephens — Stephens pleaded guilty in 2008 to being a felon in possession of a firearm and was granted a full pardon.
Andrew Barron Worden — Worden was convicted in 1998 on a wire fraud charge and was granted a full pardon.
Robert Coughlin — Coughlin pleaded guilty to a count of conflict of interest while working as a Department of Justice official and was granted a full pardon.
John Boultbee and Peter Atkinson — Boultbee and Atkinson served time in prison for mail fraud and were granted full pardons.
Joseph Occhipinti — Occhipinti was convicted of conspiracy to violate civil rights under the color of law and making false statements. Occhipinti was granted a full pardon.
Rebekah Charleston — Charleston was a former sex trafficking victim arrested for tax evasion in 2006 and was granted a full pardon.
Rickey Kanter — Kanter, former CEO of Dr. Comfort, pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and was granted a full pardon.
Topeka Sam — Sam pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine and was granted a full pardon.
James Batmasian — Batmasian pleaded guilty to willful failure to collect and remit payroll taxes in 2008 and was granted a full pardon.
William J. Plemons, Jr. — Plemons was convicted of various financial crimes in the late 1990s and early 2000s and was granted a full pardon.
Russell Plaisance — Plaisance was given a posthumous pardon for a count of conspiracy to import cocaine.
Daniela Gozes-Wagner — Gozes-Wagner's 20-year sentence for a 2017 conviction for health care fraud and money laundering was commuted.
Mark Siljander — Siljander served a year in prison for obstruction of justice and failing to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act and was granted a full pardon.
Stephanie Mohr — Mohr served 10 years in prison for releasing her K-9 partner on a burglary suspect in 1995 and was granted a full pardon.
Gary Brugman — Brugman, a former Border Patrol agent, was convicted of depriving a person of their constitutional rights. He was granted a full pardon.
John Tate and Jesse Benton — Tate and Benton were convicted for indirect campaign payments to a state senator and each granted a full pardon.
Mark Shapiro and Irving Stitsky — Shapiro and Stitsky were convicted on charges related to real estate fraud. Trump commuted their sentences.