Thursday, December 24, 2020

Russiagate: Manafort, Stone Get Christmas Presents

WaPoo, Trump pardons Charles Kushner, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone in latest wave of clemency grants  PM, Trump pardons Manafort, Stone and others in new series of clemency grants

President Donald Trump issued a new series of presidential pardons Wednesday night, as he approaches the end of his term. Among those named were Paul Manafort and Roger Stone, who both worked on Trump's Presidential campaign.

It was the second series of commutations and pardons in two days.

Manafort and Stone, like George Papadopoulos, who was also recently pardoned by Trump, were subjects of the Mueller investigation into purported Russian interference in the 2016 elections. Charges against them stemmed from the investigation.

Also on the list was Charles Kushner, the father of Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law, and Margaret Hunter, the ex-wife of Duncan Hunter, who is a former California Representative.

Kushner was convicted of preparing false tax returns, witness retaliation and making false statements. Hunter was convicted of conspiracy to misuse campaign funds in 2019.

Sundance, President Trump Pardons Roger Stone, Paul Manafort and 24 Other Persons, with a link to the Whitehouse statements on each pardon:

Paul Manafort—Today, President Trump has issued a full and complete pardon to Paul Manafort, stemming from convictions prosecuted in the course of Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation, which was premised on the Russian collusion hoax.  Mr. Manafort has already spent two years in prison, including a stretch of time in solitary confinement – treatment worse than what many of the most violent criminals receive.  As a result of blatant prosecutorial overreach, Mr. Manafort has endured years of unfair treatment and is one of the most prominent victims of what has been revealed to be perhaps the greatest witch hunt in American history.  As Mr. Manafort’s trial judge observed, prior to the Special Counsel investigation, Mr. Manafort had led an “otherwise blameless life.”  Since May, Mr. Manafort has been released to home confinement as a result of COVID-19 concerns.

Roger Stone— Today, President Trump granted a full and unconditional pardon to Roger Stone, Jr.  President Trump had previously commuted Mr. Stone’s sentence in July of this year.  Mr. Stone is a 68-year-old man with numerous medical conditions.  Due to prosecutorial misconduct by Special Counsel Mueller’s team, Mr. Stone was treated very unfairly.  He was subjected to a pre-dawn raid of his home, which the media conveniently captured on camera.  Mr. Stone also faced potential political bias at his jury trial.  Pardoning him will help to right the injustices he faced at the hands of the Mueller investigation.

As you might imagine, these pardons did not sit well with Democrats and never-Trumpers. WaPoo, Trump’s pardon of Paul Manafort brings full circle the undermining of the Russia investigation, Bulwark Boy Tim Miller,  The Treasonous Pardon of Paul Manafort "Trump, Russia, and the swamp won. America lost." Politico whines California conservatives rebuke Trump pardon of Duncan Hunter  Paul Rosenzweig at the Atlantic,  Trump’s Pardon of Manafort Is the Realization of the Founders’ Fears  Capt. Ed at Hot Air, Breaking: Trump Pardons Manafort, Stone … And Jared’s Dad; Sasse: “Rotten To The Core”

The pardons for Kushner and Stone had been widely predicted, but the one for Manafort is still a bit surprising. Manafort’s conviction came on charges that the Department of Justice had developed in 2014 but never pressed as part of a wider investigation of corruption in Ukraine. Mueller used the old charges — as well as new charges related to the Foreign Agent Registration Act — as leverage against Trump, but ended up with nothing at all.

I'm heartily in favor of the Stone pardon, and used to not favor the one for Manafort. But on reflection, his trial was totally a political hack job. No Republican, particularly one associated with Trump can get a fair trial in a DC or NOVA courtroom. We know why corruption related to Ukraine was not prosecuted; it would point back to Democrats, including the Biden clan. 

Pushing his luck, Roger Stone announces $25M lawsuit against DOJ (WaEx).

Bill Barr says bye-bye. WaEx, Barr thanks DOJ staff for rising to meet 'historic challenges' in farewell letter. By far the best AG in many years. Sadly, that wasn't a high bar(r). 

On his last day at the Department of Justice, Attorney General William Barr sent a letter to his colleagues expressing how grateful he was for their "outstanding work" and "devoted service."

"Today is my last day as Attorney General," Barr wrote." As I told the President in my departure letter and reiterated during my final press conference on Monday, it has been a great honor to serve once again in this role."

 Alex Nitzberg at JTN, Trump signs memo allowing Durham to use classified Russia evidence in grand jury probe, and from Chuck Ross at Da Caller, Trump Authorizes Russiagate Special Counsel To Use Classified Information For Grand Jury Proceedings. Good. 

President Donald Trump on Tuesday authorized the Department of Justice to use classified information in grand jury proceedings connected to a special counsel’s investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia probe.

In a memo released through the White House, Trump authorized the attorney general “to use classified information as he deems necessary in connection with his review, including in a grand jury or other proceeding.”

It was not immediately clear if the White House memo signals a development in the investigation or that grand jury has been empaneled in the probe, which is being led by U.S. Attorney John Durham.

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