(JTA) — President Donald Trump has pardoned Charles Kushner, his son-in-law’s father, as part of a spree of pardons — mostly to personal associates — in the final weeks of his presidency.
Charles Kushner, whose son Jared is married to Ivanka Trump, went to jail in 2005 for fraud, tax evasion and witness tampering. His crime generated national headlines long before his Trump connection because it included paying a prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law.
Charles Kushner served 14 months at a minimum-security prison camp in Alabama and 10 months at a halfway house in New Jersey. Jared Kushner, his father-in-law’s closest adviser, never forgave the prosecutor in the case, Chris Christie, who would go on to become New Jersey governor and one of Trump’s most loyal campaigners in 2016. Kushner nixed any role for Christie in the Trump administration.
Now, Trump has pardoned Charles Kushner for the crime, citing his record of giving since his release from prison.
“Since completing his sentence in 2006, Kushner has been devoted to important philanthropic organizations and causes, such as Saint Barnabas Medical Center and United Cerebral Palsy,” said the statement released Wednesday night by the White House. “This record of reform and charity overshadows Kushner’s conviction and 2-year sentence for preparing false tax returns, witness retaliation, and making false statements to the” Federal Election Commission.
The flood of pardons, issued Tuesday and Wednesday, is packed with figures who are close to Trump, including several who were convicted of crimes related to the federal probe into Russian interference on Trump’s behalf in the 2016 election. Historians say no president has pardoned more associates than Trump.
The details of Charles Kushner’s crimes are memorable. A one-time major Democratic donor and macher in Orthodox Jewish and federation fundraising circles, he set up his sister Esther’s husband, Bill Schulder, with a woman who seduced Schulder at his favorite diner, Time to Eat in Bridgewater, New Jersey.
The woman lured Schulder to her hotel room and secretly filmed the encounter. Charles Kushner, incensed that his brother-in-law was testifying against him in a tax evasion case, mailed the videotape anonymously, and his sister Esther immediately understood it as a warning not to testify. The Schulders received the tape as they were getting ready for their son’s engagement party.
One odd twist to the Kushner pardon is whom Trump cites as recommending it. Such citations often include prosecutors or judges involved in the trial or victims of the crime who say the miscreant has redeemed himself, or figures with expertise in the area.
Recommending Kushner for a pardon are Matt Schlapp, one of Trump’s most fervent defenders and the chairman of the American Conservative Union; David Safavian, a deputy director for the American Conservative Union whom Trump pardoned for perjury in February; and Brett Tolman, a former federal prosecutor in Utah.
The Kushner pardon came in a batch that also include Roger Stone and Paul Manafort, Trump associates who declined to participate in federal inquiries into the Trump campaign’s dealings with Russian officials. PJC