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Stone and Manafort. Photos: Drew Angerer/Getty Images, Alexandria Sheriff's Office via Getty Images

President Trump granted full pardons to 26 more people on Wednesday night, including his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, longtime associate Roger Stone and Charles Kushner, the father of Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Why it matters: It's a continuation of the president's controversial pre-Christmas pardon spree, which began in earnest Tuesday night with pardons for a trio of convicted former GOP congressmen and several military contractors involved in the 2007 massacre of Iraqi civilians.

Background

Manafort was one of the first major Trumpworld figures to be charged in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.

  • He and deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates were indicted for their unregistered lobbying work on behalf of the pro-Russian government of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. He later faced additional charges for witness tampering and was ultimately sentenced to 7.5 years in prison.
  • The Senate Intelligence Committee's report into Russian interference in the 2016 election found that Manafort passed internal campaign polling data to his business partner Konstantin Kilimnik, whom the report described as a Russian intelligence officer.
  • Manafort's business dealings are still under legal scrutiny from the Manhattan district attorney, who could bring state charges that are not protected by Trump's pardon.

Stone was charged and convicted for lying to investigators who were probing his contacts with WikiLeaks, which released damaging Democratic emails hacked by the Russian government during the 2016 campaign.

  • The longtime Trump associate was sentenced to 40 months in prison, but had his sentence commuted by the president in July.
  • Stone and Manafort are the latest figures caught up in the Russia investigation to receive pardons from Trump, joining former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos and Dutch lawyer Alex van der Zwaan.

Charles Kushner is a real estate developer who pleaded guilty in 2004 to filing false tax returns, retaliating against a witness and making false statements to the Federal Election Commission as part of a prosecution by then-U.S. Attorney Chris Christie.

Go deeper: Trump pardons convicted former congressmen and Russia probe figures

This story has been updated with more background about Manafort, Stone and Kushner.

Go deeper

Off the Rails

Episode 3: Descent into madness ... Trump: "Sometimes you need a little crazy"

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 3: The conspiracy goes too far. Trump's outside lawyers plot to seize voting machines and spin theories about communists, spies and computer software.

President Trump was sitting in the Oval Office one day in late November when a call came in from lawyer Sidney Powell. "Ugh, Sidney," he told the staff in the room before he picked up. "She's getting a little crazy, isn't she? She's really gotta tone it down. No one believes this stuff. It's just too much."

Ina Fried, author of Login
1 hour ago - Technology

Scoop: Google is investigating the actions of another top AI ethicist

Google CEO Sundar Pichai. Photo by Mateusz Wlodarczyk/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Google is investigating recent actions by Margaret Mitchell, who helps lead the company's ethical AI team, Axios has confirmed.

Why it matters: The probe follows the forced exit of Timnit Gebru, a prominent researcher also on the AI ethics team at Google whose ouster ignited a firestorm among Google employees.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Joe Biden's COVID-19 bubble

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The incoming administration is planning extraordinary steps to protect its most prized commodity, Joe Biden, including requiring daily employee COVID tests and N95 masks at all times, according to new guidance sent to some incoming employees Tuesday.

Why it matters: The president-elect is 78 years old and therefore a high risk for the virus and its worst effects, despite having received the vaccine. While President Trump's team was nonchalant about COVID protocols — leading to several super-spreader episodes — the new rules will apply to all White House aides in "high proximity to principals."