Trump pardons draw “backlash” from the usual suspects

President Donald Trump is on the receiving end of backlash after granting dozens of pardons and commutations during what is likely to be the final days of his administration, including some GOP leaders who criticized him for his actions.

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) called pardons of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and political adviser Roger Stone as “rotten to the core” Wednesday, adding that the two Trump associates had “flagrantly and repeatedly violated the law and harmed Americans.”

Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany defended the pardons of Stone and Manafort, saying in a statement that Stone, whose prison sentence Trump commuted in July, “was treated very unfairly” by investigators and prosecutors.

McEnany also said Manafort’s convictions were “premised on the Russian collusion hoax,” and that’s why Trump pardoned him.

Christie says Kushner crimes “loathsome”

Of course, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) chimed in about Trump’s pardon of Manafort, claiming that he was offered a pardon before his testimony on Trump wrongdoing and he kept his mouth shut so that he would be pardoned.

“Lawless until the bitter end,” Schiff tweeted Wednesday.

Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie criticized the pardon of Charles Kushner, the father of his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who pleaded guilty in 2004 of 16 counts of tax evasion and retaliating against a witness, and served two years in prison. 

Christie called Kushner’s crimes some of the most “loathesome” he had dealt with.

Other Republicans were less harsh about Trump’s pardons but urged caution. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said she thought presidents should follow the recommendations of the pardon office within the Justice Department, but admitted that they had “broad” authority on pardons.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) said he thought pardons “should be used very judiciously,” but didn’t offer specific criticism on Trump’s recent pardons.

Obama also criticized for pardons

Obama pardoned over 1,700 people while in office and commuted the sentences of over 200. Most famously, Obama commuted a 35-year prison sentence for Chelsea Manning, formerly Bradley Edward Manning, who disclosed thousands of documents to Wikileaks in the early 2000s and came out as transgender while in prison.

Obama also pardoned Oscar Lopez Rivera, a violent and unrepentant activist and bombmaker for Puerto Rican independence whose group Armed Forces For Liberation was responsible for 120 bombings in the 1970s and 80s.

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