US President Donald Trump issued new pardons for allies including the father of his son-in-law Jared Kushner and two confidants caught up in the probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election that brought him to power. The pardons added to a long list he has granted in his waning days in office and sparked fresh outrage.
Among those pardoned were Charles Kushner, who pleaded guilty to charges including tax evasion and witness tampering in 2004, as well as former campaign manager Paul Manafort and longtime adviser Roger Stone. The trio were among 26 people pardoned and three who had all or part of their sentences commuted by Trump.
They come only a day after Trump pardoned another 15 people and commuted sentences for five, including corrupt Republican congressmen and security guards convicted of killing 14 civilians in a 2007 Baghdad massacre.
Trump's pardon of Manafort, who was at the heart of the investigation by special prosecutor Robert Mueller into allegations of Russian interference in the election four years ago, triggered fury that Trump was trying to erase the probe he has always described as a witch hunt.
Democratic congressman Adam Schiff, who heads the House intelligence committee, said in a tweet that during the Mueller investigation, Trump's lawyer floated a pardon to Manafort. Manafort withdrew his cooperation with prosecutors, lied, was convicted and then Trump praised him for not 'ratting.' Trump's pardon now completes the corrupt scheme.
Manafort himself took to Twitter, saying, You truly did 'Make America Great Again.' God Bless you & your family. I wish you a Merry Christmas & many good wishes for the coming years.
David Axelrod, a political commentator and former aide to president Barack Obama, said of the move, Everyone saw this raw sewage dump of pardons and commutations for @realDonaldTrump apparatchiks and loyalists coming ... Yet the spectacle is still appalling.
Republican Senator Ben Sasse, who has publicly spoken out against Trump, said simply, This is rotten to the core.