US President Donald Trump on Wednesday (local time) has granted clemency to Roger Stone and Paul Manafort -- two associates convicted as part of the former special counsel Robert Muller's investigation of Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 Presidential election.
According to CNN, Trump signed 26 pardons on Wednesday which has extended the "streak of wielding" his clemency powers for criminals who are loyalists, well-connected, or adjacent to his family.
Trump also granted pardon to Charles Kushner, the father of his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner.
According to The Hill, it is the second consecutive day that Trump pardoned allies and those with connections to the White House. This announcement came shortly after Trump landed in Palm Beach, Florida for his vacation.
Stone was convicted in November 2019 by a jury in Washington, DC, of lying to Congress in connection with its separate investigation into Russian interference, witness tampering and obstructing an official proceedings.
Trump commuted Stone's sentence in July days before he was set to report to prison. The full pardon came with a note from press secretary Kayleigh McEnany that stated Stone "was treated very unfairly." "Today, President Trump granted a full and unconditional pardon to Roger Stone, Jr. President Trump had previously commuted Stone's sentence in July of this year. Stone is a 68-year-old man with numerous medical conditions. Due to prosecutorial misconduct by Special Counsel Mueller's team, Stone was treated very unfairly," The White House said in a statement.
Manafort served as the chairman of Trump's 2016 campaign and was convicted in 2018 on bank fraud and tax charges. He was sentenced to more than seven years in prison. Manafort was released to home confinement earlier this year amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump issued Manafort a "full and complete pardon" with McEnany arguing that his convictions were "premised on the Russian collusion hoax", as reported by The Hill.
"Manafort has already spent two years in prison, including a stretch of time in solitary confinement - treatment worse than what many of the most violent criminals receive. As a result of blatant prosecutorial overreach, Manafort has endured years of unfair treatment and is one of the most prominent victims of what has been revealed to be perhaps the greatest witch hunt in American history," the White House added.
The Manhattan district attorney is still appealing its case against Manafort.
"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," Danny Frost, director of communications for District Attorney Cy Vance, said in a statement.
"Trump railed against the investigation for much of his first two years in office. He had previously pardoned Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI as part of the probe, and on Tuesday pardoned two others caught up in the investigation," The Hill reported.
The president also pardoned Charles Kushner, 66, who pleaded guilty in 2004 to charges of tax evasion, lying to the Federal Election Commission and retaliating against a federal witness.
"Since completing his sentence in 2006, Kushner has been devoted to important philanthropic organizations and causes, such as Saint Barnabas Medical Center and United Cerebral Palsy. This record of reform and charity overshadows Kushner's conviction and 2-year sentence for preparing false tax returns, witness retaliation, and making false statements to the FEC," the White House said further.
Trump granted clemency to 15 people and five commutations that were announced Tuesday evening by the White House, the Hill reported.
The pardons were given to former campaign aide George Papadopoulos, former US congressmen Duncan Hunter and Chris Collins, and the four Blackwater guards involved in the Iraq massacre.
Late last month, Trump pardoned Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser, who was also charged in connection with Mueller's investigation.
The pardon came as the Justice Department was seeking to withdraw its case against Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador, bringing a dramatic end to his case.