- President Donald Trump granted a full pardon on Wednesday to the longtime Republican strategist Roger Stone.
- Stone was convicted of multiple felonies last year, including making false statements, obstruction of justice, and witness tampering.
- His pardon is the latest in a series of executive clemency grants Trump has doled out to friends and allies in the waning weeks of his presidency.
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President Donald Trump granted a full pardon on Wednesday to the Republican strategist and convicted felon Roger Stone.
A jury found Stone guilty last year of seven felonies, including making false statements, witness tampering, and obstruction of justice in connection with the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
The charging document against Stone contained a slew of details about Stone’s false statements to Congress about his interactions involving WikiLeaks; about his extensive communications with the far-right commentator Jerome Corsi and the radio host Randy Credico about WikiLeaks’ document dumps in summer 2016; and about his prolonged efforts to prevent Credico from testifying to Congress or turning over information to the FBI.
The five false statements counts the jury convicted Stone on were related to his testimony before the House Intelligence Committee in September 2017. Making false statements to Congress is its own crime, but the indictment against Stone said his misleading testimony to lawmakers contributed to the deliberate obstruction of ongoing investigations by the FBI and the House and Senate intelligence committees.
The president commuted Stone’s sentence in July, and his pardon this week is the latest in the series of executive clemency grants Trump has doled out to friends and allies before he leaves office in January.
On Wednesday, the White House also announced that Trump had pardoned his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who was convicted of eight counts of tax fraud, bank fraud, and failure to report foreign bank accounts as part of Mueller’s probe. Manafort later pleaded guilty to one count of obstruction and one count of conspiracy, and he has since spent nearly two years in prison after being sentenced to 7 1/2 years.
The president also granted a pardon to Charles Kushner, a real-estate businessman and the father of Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. The elder Kushner pleaded guilty in 2005 to 16 counts of tax evasion, one count of retaliating against a federal witness, and one count of lying to the Federal Election Commission.
Overall, the president pardoned 26 people on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Trump granted full pardons to two other associates ensnared in the Mueller probe, George Papadopoulos and Alex van der Zwaan. Both men pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI.
The president also granted pardons or commuted the sentences of 18 others on Tuesday, including four former Blackwater guards who were convicted in connection to the massacre of 14 Iraqi civilians in 2007, three former Republican congressmen who were convicted of or pleaded guilty to multiple felonies, and two former Border Patrol agents convicted of shooting and wounding an unarmed undocumented immigrant in 2006.
Last month, Trump pardoned former national security advisor Michael Flynn, who in December 2017 admitted to lying to the FBI.
Axios recently reported that Trump plans to issue a wave of new pardons before leaving office and that he has offered pardons to people “like Christmas gifts,” including to those who did not ask for them and do not want to be pardoned. One source told the news website that Trump said he would pardon “every person who ever talked to me.”
The New York Times reported that Trump is considering granting pre-emptive pardons to his three eldest children, Jared Kushner, and his personal defense lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
The Constitution grants the president extraordinarily broad powers to grant pardons and commutations. But Trump has drawn scrutiny for circumventing the lengthy legal and ethical review process at the Justice Department that typically goes into determining who should be granted executive clemency.
Although the president has granted fewer pardons and commutations than his predecessors, the Harvard Law School professor Jack Goldsmith determined that the vast majority of pardons Trump has dished out have gone to his friends and political loyalists.
Trump has even floated the notion of pardoning himself before leaving office, which would put the US in uncharted territory because the question of whether a sitting president can pardon himself has never been tested.