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Trump Pardons Ex-Campaign Chief Manafort, Adviser Roger Stone[1]

(Bloomberg) — Donald Trump pardoned his 2016 campaign chairman Paul Manafort, using his executive power in his final weeks as president to free an ally who’d been convicted of financial crimes and illegal lobbying.Trump also pardoned Roger Stone, a longtime political adviser whose sentence for a conviction of lying to Congress he had previously commuted; and Charles Kushner, the real estate developer and father of the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.The White House announced the pardons on Wednesday night after Trump arrived at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida for the holidays.Manafort, an international political consultant and Republican Party operative, was serving a 7 ½-year term when he was released in May to home confinement due to the coronavirus pandemic.He was convicted in August 2018 of lying to tax authorities about tens of millions of dollars he earned as a political consultant in Ukraine and misleading banks about his financial health to get loans.His conviction came about as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian attempts to interfere in the 2016 election.Manafort later pleaded guilty to conspiring to lobby illegally for Ukraine, to launder money to support a lavish lifestyle and tamper with witnesses.Trump had previously resisted offering Manafort a pardon, likely in part because doing so posed a political risk. His decision to move forward now appeared at least a tacit acknowledgment that his presidency is nearing an end, despite asserting without evidence that he was robbed of a victory by widespread election fraud.Shortly after Manafort’s conviction, Trump told reporters he believed Manafort was a “good man” and said he felt “very sad” about the conviction — even though the crimes did not relate to the president. Trump went on to suggest that Manafort had been unfairly targeted by federal investigators.“It’s a witch hunt and it’s a disgrace,” Trump said.Manafort was also indicted in New York for lying on mortgage applications for properties in Manhattan and Brooklyn.But in October an appeals court there upheld an earlier dismissal of the charges, finding state law didn’t allow for prosecution of the same charges as Manafort faced at the federal level. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. has appealed that decision.Danny Frost, a spokesman for Vance, said Trump’s pardon “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.”The elder Kushner was imprisoned after being convicted of charges that included preparing false tax returns and witness retaliation.Moments after the pardon was announced, Stone’s lawyer Grant Smith said his client is “humbled that President Trump used his Constitutional power to allow Mr. & Mrs. Stone to put this behind them and move on with their lives.”Trump had earlier pardoned Michael Flynn, his first national security adviser, who pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents, and commuted the sentence of Stone, who was supposed to serve more than three years in prison for witness tampering and lying to Congress.(Updates with New York appeals court ruling, in 11th paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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