For Trump, Pardons as an Expression of Grievance

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The elder Mr. Kushner set up his brother-in-law, who was cooperating with the investigation, by hiring a prostitute to seduce him and then sending a tape of the act to his wife, Mr. Kushner’s own sister. He was prosecuted by Chris Christie, a U.S. attorney at the time and later the governor of New Jersey. Mr. Christie, a friend of Mr. Trump’s, has previously called Mr. Kushner’s actions “loathsome” and “disgusting,” but declined to comment on the pardon this week.

Mr. Trump, who promised in his 2016 campaign to “drain the swamp,” also pardoned four former Republican congressmen convicted of corruption, including the first House member to endorse him for president, Chris Collins, who called his son with an insider trading stock tip from the White House lawn.

The president pardoned a former campaign manager and nephew by marriage of Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky and a key ally. He pardoned four security contractors from Blackwater, the firm founded by Erik Prince, the brother of his education secretary, Betsy DeVos.

Mr. Trump makes little effort to hide the fact that his pardons go to people with connections, even listing in his announcements who recommended them. A man pardoned for cybercrimes on Wednesday was supported by Isaac Perlmutter, the Marvel Entertainment chairman and a friend of Mr. Trump’s from his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida.

Seven drug convicts receiving clemency this week were recommended by Alice Marie Johnson, a previous pardon recipient originally brought to Mr. Trump’s attention by Kim Kardashian West. Five clemency recipients had the support of Pam Bondi, who served as a lawyer for Mr. Trump during his Senate impeachment trial this year.

Two were associates of Conrad M. Black, the former media baron and friend of Mr. Trump’s who himself received a pardon for fraud and obstruction of justice convictions in 2019, a year after writing a flattering book about the president.

Aside from the cabinet connection, the four Blackwater contractors were championed by Pete Hegseth, a Fox News host and outspoken Trump supporter who has been influential with the president in the past.



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