The latest round of pardons from outgoing US President Donald Trump includes forgiveness for one famously “disgusting” crime.
The latest round of pardons from outgoing US President Donald Trump includes forgiveness for one famously “disgusting” crime.

The ‘loathsome’ crime Trump just pardoned

US President Donald Trump has gone on something of a pardoning spree since his election defeat, using his final weeks in office to help dozens of convicted criminals - including some of his own political associates.

The full list of beneficiaries includes more than 40 people, some of whom are far more controversial than others.

Below, we have pulled out the most contentious names and explained why they were prosecuted in the first place.

CHARLES KUSHNER

Mr Kushner is the father of Mr Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is married to Ivanka Trump and serves as a senior White House adviser. He is also a major political donor to the President.

In 2004, Charles Kushner pleaded guilty to a range of crimes including witness retaliation, tax evasion and lying to the Federal Election Commission.

He engaged in one particularly unsavoury act. Having discovered that his brother-in-law was co-operating with law enforcement, Mr Kushner hired a sex worker to seduce him in a motel room. He secretly recorded the encounter, then sent the footage to his sister, i.e. the brother-in-law's wife.

Chris Christie, the Trump ally and former Republican governor of New Jersey, is the man who successfully prosecuted Mr Kushner during his time as a US attorney. Mr Christie labelled Mr Kushner's scheme "one of the most loathsome, disgusting crimes" he had ever prosecuted.

Mr Kushner served 14 months in prison, and was released more than 14 years ago. Mr Trump pardoned him on December 23.

RELATED: Trump's latest round of pardons slammed

MICHAEL FLYNN

Mike Flynn, a retired general, was Mr Trump's first national security adviser in the White House. He only lasted a couple of weeks before the President fired him for lying to Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with the Russian ambassador in Washington.

Gen Flynn later pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators about those same contacts. Mr Trump pardoned him on November 25.

RELATED: Flynn calls for Trump to declare 'martial law'

 

PAUL MANAFORT

A longtime political operative, Mr Manafort was Mr Trump's first campaign manager in 2016.

The various investigations into Russian election interference did scrutinise Mr Manafort, discovering that he secretly shared internal campaign information with a Russian intelligence officer named Konstantin Kilimnik.

The Senate Intelligence Committee, which is controlled by the Republican Party, concluded the pair's relationship represented a "grave counterintelligence threat".

However, the Russia stuff isn't what put Mr Manafort in jail. He was convicted on a range of serious financial crimes, including tax and bank fraud, and sentenced to more than seven years in prison. The offences were connected to his consulting work in Ukraine.

Mr Trump pardoned him on December 23.

 

ROGER STONE

Mr Stone is a longtime friend and political adviser to Mr Trump.

A jury convicted him on seven counts, five of which were for making false statements to Congress under oath. The other two were for obstruction and witness tampering.

The short version here is that Mr Stone repeatedly attempted to mislead investigators about his attempts to get dirt on Hillary Clinton from WikiLeaks. He told a bunch of easily disprovable lies under oath, and pressured an associate, Randy Credico, to do the same.

He was sentenced to more than three years in prison.

The President helped Mr Stone in several different ways, first attacking his own Justice Department's prosecutors for going after him, then granting him clemency, and eventually a full pardon on December 23.

RELATED: Trump accused of interfering in Stone case

 

GEORGE PAPADOPOULOS

Mr Papadopoulos was one of Mr Trump's foreign policy advisers during the 2016 campaign.

He indirectly kicked off the FBI's investigation into Russian election interference when, in conversation with former Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer, he said Moscow had dirt on Mr Trump's opponent, Ms Clinton.

That conversation happened about two months before Russia started to disseminate material it had stolen from the Democratic National Committee via WikiLeaks.

Like Gen Flynn, Mr Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to investigators, though he only served a two-week jail sentence. He was part of the group pardoned on December 22.

RELATED: Australia dragged into Russia scandal

 

STEVE STOCKMAN

Mr Stockman, a former Republican congressman from Texas, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for conspiring to steal donations that were intended to go to charity.

He used more than a million dollars from donors to pay for personal expenses, and was convicted of 23 felony offences.

Mr Stockman only served two of his 10 years before Mr Trump commuted his sentence.

CHRIS COLLINS

Another former Republican congressman, Mr Collins was sentenced to more than two years in jail for conspiring to commit securities fraud and lying to investigators. He pleaded guilty to those crimes.

Mr Collins had not yet served a full year when Mr Trump pardoned him.

MARK SILJANDER

Mr Siljander was once a congressman from Michigan, back in the 1980s. More recently, he was sent to prison for obstructing justice and wrongfully acting as a foreign agent.

He was hired by a group called the Islamic American Relief Agency, which wanted him to lobby Congress to get its name removed from a list of terrorist supporting organisations.

Mr Siljander served one year and one day in jail.

DUNCAN HUNTER

Yet another former congressman convicted for a form of corruption.

Mr Hunter got a sentence of 11 months for misusing funds donated to his campaign for personal expenses.

He'd served most of that already when the President pardoned him, but will no longer face a three-year period of supervised release.

PHILIP LYMAN

This is the last politician, and a bit small fry by comparison. Mr Lyman was a state congressman in Utah who had to spend 10 days in jail over his role in a protest.

He served that sentence years ago.

BLACKWATER CONTRACTORS

Finally, I'll lump these four together, because they were all prosecuted over the same incident.

Paul Slough, Evan Liberty, Dustin Heard and Nicholas Slatten were contractors working for the private security company Blackwater in Iraq.

In September of 2007, they were involved in a shooting at Baghdad's Nisour Square, which resulted in 14 civilian deaths - including children - and 17 injuries.

The four guards claimed they had acted in self-defence, believing an approaching vehicle was a car bomber. Witnesses said they were actually the aggressors, and fired indiscriminately into a crowd of civilians.

Mr Slatten was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. The other three were found guilty on multiple counts of voluntary manslaughter, and each was sentenced to more than a decade of jail time.

 

Originally published as The 'loathsome' crime Trump just pardoned



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