President Donald Trump has pardoned his former campaign manager Paul Manafort and his good friend Roger Stone. Before, he already forgave the latter’s sentence. He thus disproves the most important convictions resulting from the Russian meddling investigation.
Also, Charles Kushner, the father of Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, was pardoned. This real estate developer was sentenced to two years in 2005 for tax evasion and the influence of witnesses. For example, Kushner had a prostitute film seducing his brother-in-law to get cooperation from his sister.
It’s the second time in two days that Trump has pardoned a group of people. He called almost 50 people off their sentence.
Yesterday, among other things, he pardoned the Dutch lawyer Alex van der Zwaan and his former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos. Both were prosecuted on the basis of the Russian investigation by special prosecutor Robert Mueller.
Paul Manafort was also investigated by Mueller. He served a 7.5-year sentence for tax and banking fraud in a case that resulted from the Russian investigation.
It is not surprising that Trump would pardon confidants in the final days of his presidency. Last month, his former security advisor, Michael Flynn, avoided all his punishment.
“These are, to a large extent, people from Russia’s Research,” says correspondent Lucas Daresmeester. “Trump has always said that this investigation was a witch hunt, a farce. It is therefore not surprising that he pardons these people.”
It’s common practice for a president to waive the sentence for groups of people in the White House after hours. In many cases, this is also the case in controversial cases, because a outgoing president has little to do with his criticism.
Trump also does not pardon a startling number of people, says Daresmeester. “But what is particularly striking about his predecessors is that he pardons political friends, or people who are ideologically connected to him. If you look at Obama, for example, you can see that he mainly pardoned people who were very old and served a life sentence, or people who had received massive punishments for relatively minor drug offences.”
“With Trump, it’s different. It’s obvious that Roger Stone has committed criminal acts. These are people who lied in a judicial investigation, like Flynn. Those are major crimes here in the U.S.,” says Daresmeester. “But political friends get mercy from Trump. That’s the comment you’re looking at right now.”
In the past, there were more presidents who did this. Bill Clinton pardoned his half-brother, and called off the punishment of a businessman who later donated a large sum to his campaign. Another famous example is Richard Nixon. As president, he would have committed criminal acts. However, he was pardoned by his successor Gerald Ford.
Trump is expected to pardon many people from his immediate surroundings in the coming weeks. According to Daagmeister, those involved in the Russian investigation can count on this. “Jared Kushner is also mentioned as a candidate. “Trump’s son-in-law is closely involved with him as his advisor. “By pardoning him, he cannot be prosecuted for all his actions so far.”
In Washington it is suggested that Trump will also try to pardon himself. Technically, he could do that by stepping down briefly, and letting his vice president Pence reprieve him. “But the interesting thing is that pardon can only be granted on a federal level. In the state of New York, a prosecutor is after him for tax evasion. Even if he pardons himself, he could still be prosecuted there.”