Trump grants a full pardon to Republican strategist Roger Stone, who was convicted of 7 felonies

Roger Stone, longtime political ally of U.S. President Donald Trump, arrives for a status hearing in the criminal case against him brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller at U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S., April 30, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Robertsle
Roger Stone.

  • 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.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

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.

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Trump issues wave of pardons and commutations to Russia probe defendants, former GOP lawmakers, Blackwater guards, and Border Patrol agents

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President Donald Trump at the White House on November 26, 2020.

  • President Donald Trump issued a wave of pardons and commutations to 20 people on Tuesday.
  • Included on the list were two associates who were ensnared in the FBI’s Russia investigation, as well as multiple former Republican congressmen who were convicted of or pleaded guilty to several felonies.
  • Also included were four Blackwater guards who were implicated in the 2007 massacre of 17 Iraqi civilians, and two Border Patrol agents accused of shooting an unarmed undocumented immigrant in 2006 and covering it up.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump issued a series of pardons and commutations on Tuesday to 20 people including associates ensnared in the Russia probe, three former Republican congressmen who pleaded guilty to or were convicted of felonies, and four former Blackwater guards implicated in the massacre of more than a dozen Iraqi civilians.

Also included on Trump’s list of pardons were two former Border Patrol agents who were convicted in connection to the shooting of an unarmed undocumented immigrant. And the president granted executive clemency to multiple individuals convicted of nonviolent drug offenses.

Among the former lawmakers Trump pardoned was Duncan Hunter, who pleaded guilty last year to one count of misusing campaign funds. He was sentenced to 11 months in prison but has not yet begun serving out his sentence.

Also on the list was former GOP congressman Steve Stockman, who was convicted in 2018 on 23 felony counts of fraud, money laundering, conspiracy, and false statements. Stockman was sentenced to ten years in prison and ordered to pay more than $1 million in restitution. Trump commuted the remainder of Stockman’s sentence on Tuesday, citing his age, his pre-existing health conditions, and the fact that he contracted COVID-19 while in prison.

Trump also granted a pardon to former Rep. Chris Collins, who pleaded guilty last year to making false statements to the FBI and conspiracy to commit securities fraud. He is currently serving out a 26-month sentence.

The four Blackwater guards Trump pardoned on Tuesday were found guilty in connection to a deadly shooting in Baghdad that killed 17 Iraqi civilians. One of the former contractors, Nicholas Slatten, was convicted of first-degree murder and is serving out a lifetime prison sentence. The other three defendants were convicted of multiple counts of voluntary manslaughter, attempted manslaughter, and firearms offenses.

“This verdict is a resounding affirmation of the commitment of the American people to the rule of law, even in times of war,” the US attorney in Washington, DC, said in a statement after the verdict came out in 2014. “Seven years ago, these Blackwater contractors unleashed powerful sniper fire, machine guns and grenade launchers on innocent men, women, and children. Today, they were held accountable for that outrageous attack and its devastating consequences for so many Iraqi families.”

The two former Border Patrol agents the president pardoned, Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, were convicted in 2006 for shooting and injuring an unarmed undocumented immigrant. Their sentences were later commuted by President George W. Bush, and Trump granted them full pardons on Tuesday.

George Papadopoulos and Alex van der Zwaan both pleaded guilty to charges in connection to the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US election. Both men were pardoned on Tuesday. 

Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy advisor to Trump’s 2016 campaign, pleaded guilty to one count of lying to the FBI as part of the Mueller investigation. But he later backtracked on the admission, saying in his book that he “misspoke” to the FBI and that the lie he pleaded guilty to was “unintentional.” 

He also wrote that he felt “forced” into pleading guilty to avoid being charged with violating foreign lobbying laws. The former aide also told Reuters last year that he had formally applied for a pardon from Trump. Papadopoulos reiterated his hope for a pardon last month, saying in an interview with ABC’s Chicago affiliate this month, “Of course I would be honored to be pardoned.”

Van der Zwaan, a Dutch lawyer who worked with former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates, was charged with “willfully and knowingly” making “false, fictitious, and fraudulent statements and representations” to federal investigators about his work in 2012 for the law firm Skadden, Arps, Meagher & Flom.

He was also accused of misleading federal investigators about his communications with Gates, who is a longtime associate of Manafort.

In particular, van der Zwaan is said to have lied to investigators about why he did not provide the special counsel Robert Mueller’s office with a September 2016 email between him and another person referred to as “Person A” in the February charging document.

Papadopoulos and van der Zwaan are among several Trump associates caught up in the Russia probe whom the president has shown leniency to in recent months.

In July, he commuted the sentence of the longtime Republican strategist Roger Stone, who was convicted last year of seven felony counts of making false statements, obstruction, and witness tampering. Last month, Trump also pardoned former national security advisor Michael Flynn, who in December 2017 pleaded guilty to one count of lying to the FBI.

Politico reported earlier this month that Trump is considering pardoning as many as 20 associates in the waning days of his presidency, including his three eldest children, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, and his personal defense lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

Axios reported that the president is offering pardons “like Christmas gifts” and has even offered them to people who never asked for and did not want them.

The president’s pardon power as outlined in the Constitution is extraordinarily broad and has very few exceptions. That said, Trump has faced significant blowback for his decision to show leniency towards his friends and allies, as well as his willingness to circumvent the extensive legal and ethical review process that determines who receives executive clemency.

Jack Goldsmith, a professor at Harvard Law School, tallied up the number of pardons Trump has issued throughout his presidency, and found that 88% were granted to those who were close to him or political loyalists.

Trump’s actions this week and media reports detailing the executive clemency grants that still may come show he’s been more than willing to continue testing the limits of that power, and he’s even suggested pardoning himself.

Trump has not been charged with any crime but is caught up in multiple federal and state investigations into his business and financial dealings. He was named as “Individual-1,” an unindicted co-conspirator, in the Manhattan US attorney’s office’s charging document against the former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance laws while facilitating illegal hush-money payments to two women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump.

Mueller’s team also found at least ten instances in which Trump may have obstructed justice in connection to the Russia inquiry. Prosecutors ultimately declined to make a “tradiitonal prosecutorial judgment” on whether Trump obstructed justice, citing a 1973 Justice Department memo saying a sitting president cannot be indicted. But Mueller testified to Congress last year that the president could be charged with obstruction upon leaving office. 

The president is also the focus of two fraud investigations in New York looking into the Trump Organization. Any charges that stem from the inquiries would not fall under the scope of the pardon power, which only applies to federal crimes.

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