Trump issues new wave of 26 pardons, three commutations

Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, Charles Kushner among prominent names in pardon list

Just before heading to his private club in Palm Beach for the holidays, President Trump issued a wave of 26 pardons and three commutations on Wednesday.

Prominent names included in the list of pardons are former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and adviser Roger Stone, who were prosecuted and convicted in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into foreign interference in the 2016 election.

Trump has now pardoned four people convicted in that investigation, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn and campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

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Manafort, who was released to home confinement due to COVID-19 concerns, had been sentenced to more than seven years in prison for financial crimes related to his work in Ukraine and was among the first people charged as part of Mueller’s investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The White House said in a statement that Manafort is one of the most prominent victims of "the greatest witch hunt in American history," claiming he "endured years of unfair treatment" due to "blatant prosecutorial overreach."

"Mr. President, my family & I humbly thank you for the Presidential Pardon you bestowed on me. Words cannot fully convey how grateful we are," Manafort wrote on Twitter Wednesday evening. "History will record that your Presidency accomplished more in 4 years than any of your modern-day predecessors. 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."

However, Manafort's legal fight may not be over, with prosecutors for Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance still fighting in court for the ability to file state criminal charges after Manafort was indicted by Vance in 2019.

An appeals court tossed the charges on double jeopardy grounds, but Vance’s team has appealed the decision to the highest court.

"This action 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," Vance's Director of Communications, Danny Frost, told FOX News in a statement.

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Stone's pardon comes after his sentence was previously commuted by Trump in July. Stone was convicted last year of witness tampering, obstruction and making false statements.

The White House alleged Stone faced "potential political bias at his jury trial" and that the pardon will help "right the injustices he faced at the hands of the Mueller investigation." 

In a lengthy statement, Stone thanked Trump for his "extraordinary act of justice" and claimed he was subjected to a "Soviet-style trial on politically-motivated charges, further corrupted by egregious, illegal misconduct by the Jury Forewoman in the case."

Stone argued that the Special Counsel "admitted that there was no 'factual' evidence whatsoever of coordination, collaboration or collusion between me, any Russians, WikiLeaks or publisher Julian Assange."

"Mueller’s intrusive, lawless, malicious multimillion-dollar witch hunt could find no prosecutable crime against me, other than what they managed to fabricate," Stone said.

In addition, Stone asked Trump to consider granting full and unconditional pardons to Assange, Edward Snowden, Marcus Garvey and Former Secret Service Agent Abraham W. Bolden, Sr.

"The injustice done to me does not stand alone," Stone added. "Other good Americans have been victims of a corrupt system made to serve venal power-seekers, rewarding deceit and manipulation, rather than reason and justice. President Trump can be the purveyor of justice over the vile machinations of wicked pretenders to the mantle of public service."

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Other names included in the full pardons are Charles Kushner, the father of Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who was convicted and sentenced to two years for preparing false tax returns, witness retaliation, and making false statements to the Federal Election Commission, and Margaret Hunter, the wife of former California Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter, who received his own pardon on Tuesday. Ms. Hunter pleaded guilty in 2019 to one count of conspiracy to misuse campaign funds for personal expenses and was sentenced to three years of probation.

In addition, Trump pardoned more than 20 other individuals, who pleaded guilty to offenses including various cyber crimes, firearm possession, and mail fraud. Trump also commuted the sentence of three other individuals.

The actions bring to nearly 50 the number of people whom Trump in the last two days has granted clemency either by pardoning them or by commuting their sentences. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.