President Trump has granted pardons to a group of high-profile allies including Charles Kushner, father of Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner.
The elder Kushner pleaded guilty to 16 counts of tax evasion in 2004, as well as additional counts of lying to the Federal Election Commission and retaliating against a federal witness. He ultimately served two years in prison.
His prosecution was the climax of a sordid family drama in which Kushner retaliated against his sister, who was cooperating with a federal campaign finance investigation against him, by hiring a sex worker to seduce her husband, then sending her video evidence of the encounter.
A potential pardon for Kushner has long been the subject of speculation for Beltway insiders.
Jared Kushner is understood to have been deeply scarred by his father’s run-in with the law, and his political career has in some ways been shaped by it. The younger Kushner is widely understood to have been the force behind his father-in-law’s efforts on prison reform, spurred on by his father’s time in the justice system.
And his father’s history caused profound tensions with longtime Trump stalwart and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who as a U.S. attorney prosecuted Charles Kushner. In 2019, Christie accused Jared Kushner for forcing him out of Trump’s political circle and convincing Trump to withhold plum administration jobs as retribution.
The pardon, issued as part of a recent spate of acts of clemency that saw Trump issue 15 pardons and five commutations Tuesday and a further 26 pardons and three commutations Wednesday, will surely draw controversy. In February, Trump put Jared Kushner in charge of a team tasked with vetting and putting forward candidates for pardons, a position that will likely raise questions as to how his father came to be on the list.
Prominent politicos and media personalities reacted to news of the pardon with disbelief and fury.
Outgoing President Trump pardons Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner’s father Charles, whom then-US Attorney Chris Christie prosecuted for tax evasion, witness tampering and illegal campaign contributions.
Current swamp status: pic.twitter.com/dyZoUj4y98— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) December 24, 2020
Everyone saw this raw sewage dump of pardons and commutations for @realDonaldTrump apparatchiks and loyalists coming. It’s the least surprising news. Yet the spectacle is still appalling. And it’s not over!https://t.co/diEiryhwfW— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) December 24, 2020
Hahaha Jared Kushner “had no role” in seeking a pardon for his father. As if anyone needed to explicitly ask.— Elie Honig (@eliehonig) December 24, 2020
“Trump has turned an instrument of mercy and justice into just another way for him to be corrupt.” — @CREWcrew on the Kushner, Manafort, and Stone pardons pic.twitter.com/ywqyUlBRfX— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 24, 2020
In April, 2018, Charles Kushner told The New York Times he would prefer not to receive a pardon from Trump, because he worried about the publicity that would follow.
Charles Kushner’s name was among several included in the Wednesday announcement that drew immediate attention. Trump also granted pardons to Paul Manafort, who chaired Trump’s campaign for the presidency between June and August of 2016, and who was convicted of tax and bank fraud in 2018 as a consequence of the Mueller investigation, and Roger Stone, Jr., convicted of seven felonies in 2019 as part of the same. Trump commuted Stone, Jr.’s sentence in July, a move that drew outrage.
Trump pardons Jared Kushner’s father, Charles Kushner