US President Donald Trump has pardoned a number of longtime associates ahead of his presidency coming to an end.
The actions, in Trump’s waning time at the White House, bring to nearly 50 the number of people whom the president has granted clemency in the last week.
The list from the last two days includes not only multiple people convicted in the investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia but also allies from Congress and other felons whose causes were championed by friends.
Pardons are common in the final stretch of a president’s tenure, the recipients largely dependent on the individual whims of the nation’s chief executive.
Among those pardoned includes Charles Kushner, the father of Trump’s son-in-law.
Mr Kushner, a wealthy real estate executive, 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.
Prosecutors allege that after Mr Kushner discovered that his brother-in-law was cooperating with authorities, he hatched a revenge and intimidation scheme.
They said he hired a prostitute to lure his brother-in-law, then arranged to have a secret recording of the encounter in a New Jersey motel room sent to his own sister, the man’s wife.
Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has called it “one of the most loathsome, disgusting crimes” he ever prosecuted as US attorney.
Roger Stone was another name among those pardoned.
Mr Stone was convicted of lying to Congress about his efforts to gain inside information about the release by WikiLeaks of Russia-hacked Democratic emails during the 2016 campaign.
In a statement on Wednesday, Mr Stone thanked Trump and alleged that he had been subjected to a “Soviet-style show trial on politically-motivated charges”.
Trump has now pardoned five people convicted in the investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 US election, four of them associates like former national security adviser Michael Flynn and campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, both of whom pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.
Paul Manafort also received a pardon.
He led Trump’s campaign during a pivotal period in 2016 before being ousted over his ties to Ukraine and was among the first people charged as part of Mr Mueller’s investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
He was later sentenced to more than seven years in prison for financial crimes related to his political consulting work in Ukraine, but was released to home confinement last spring because of coronavirus concerns in the federal prison system.
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