Trump pardons Manafort, Stone
Palm Beach, Florida – United States President Donald Trump on Wednesday granted pardons to former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former adviser Roger Stone, sweeping away the most important convictions under the long-running Russia election probe.
Trump also issued a pardon for Charles Kushner, a real estate developer and the father of Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
Trump, taking advantage of a right granted by the Constitution only to the president, has issued two groups of pardons in as many days, and more are anticipated as Trump faces the end of his presidency on January 20.
The announcement came just after Trump arrived in Palm Beach, Florida, for the holiday season, with Jared Kushner on the Air Force One flight with him.
In total, Trump issued on Wednesday pardons to 26 individuals and commuted part or all of the sentences of an additional three people. A commutation removes the punishment but leaves the conviction in place.
Of special interest for Trump has been attacking the results of US Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign, a case Trump repeatedly dismissed as a political witch hunt.
Reacting to Wednesday’s pardons, Republican Senator Ben Sasse, in a six-word statement, said: “This is rotten to the core.”
Besides Manafort and Stone, Trump has pardoned two other major figures from the Russia probe, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former adviser George Papadopoulos.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office, which has been trying to prosecute Manafort in New York for mortgage fraud and other alleged crimes, said it would continue to pursue an appeal for its case, which was dismissed on double jeopardy grounds.
“This action underscores the urgent need to hold 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,” said Danny Frost, spokesman for the office. (Reuters)