In a fresh wave of federal pardons in the dying days of his presidency, Donald Trump granted clemency to 26 people on Wednesday. Those pardoned include former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former adviser Roger Stone.
The president also pardoned Charles Kushner, a real estate developer and the father of his son-in-law Jared Kushner.
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.
The pardons came a day after Trump gave clemency to as many as 15 people. The most prominent figure to get the pardon on Tuesday was George Papadopoulos, a former campaign staff who pleaded guilty in a case related to the Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Other prominent people to get the full presidential pardon include Alex van der Zwaan and former Congressmen Chris Collins and Duncan Hunter.
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.
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Of special interest for Trump has been attacking the results of U.S. 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 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," said Danny Frost, spokesman for the office.
The Manafort pardon spared the long-time Republican operative from serving the bulk of his 7-1/2-year prison term.
Manafort, 70, was among the first in Trump's inner circle to face charges brought by Mueller as part of his probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Manafort worked on Trump's White House campaign for five months in 2016. In 2018, Trump called him a "brave man" for not cooperating with federal authorities.
Evidence from the Russia investigation indicated that Trump intended to encourage Manafort "not to cooperate with the government," according to Mueller's report.
In a statement relayed by his lawyer, Manafort expressed his appreciation to Trump.