18:21 GMT25 January 2021
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    US President Donald Trump earlier granted clemency to a slew of convicted criminals, in keeping with a tradition for outgoing 'lame duck' presidents, after his Democratic opponent in the election on 3 November Joe Biden was officially proclaimed president-elect.

    President Donald Trump has been engaged in a flurry of clemency activity, announcing pardons to over a dozen high-profile individuals before he is slated to hand over the reins to his successor, Democratic president-elect Joe Biden.

    One of those pardoned was Charles Kushner, the father of his own son-in-law and top adviser, Jared Kushner.

    ‘Loathsome, Disgusting Crime’

    The disbarred American attorney, real estate developer and Kushner Companies boss in 2004 plead guilty to 16 counts of tax evasion, one count of lying to the Federal Election Commission and one count of retaliating against a witness.

    ​Charles Kushner admitted to having hired a prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law, William Schulder, his sister Esther's husband, who was cooperating with federal authorities, orchestrating to videotape the liaison and send the tape to his sister.

    ​Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at the time referred to the case as “one of the most loathsome, disgusting crimes” he'd ever prosecuted as a US attorney.

    On 30 June 2004, Charles Kushner was fined $508,900 by the Federal Election Commission for contributing to Democratic political campaigns in the names of his partnerships when he lacked the authorisation to do so.

    In 2005, after a probe by the US Attorney's Office for the District of New Jersey, he negotiated a plea agreement, under which he pleaded guilty to 18 counts of illegal campaign contributions, tax evasion, and witness tampering.

    The latter charge stemmed from his “retaliation” against William Schulder, his sister’s husband, who was cooperating with federal investigators.

    After the wealthy real estate executive Charles Kushner had learned of his brother-in-law’s actions, he concocted a scheme for intimidation. He hired a prostitute to lure his brother-in-law into an encounter in a New Jersey motel room. Using a hidden camera, he recorded it, and promptly sent it to his own sister, the man’s wife. Nevertheless, his scheme failed and Kushner later pleaded guilty to tax evasion and making illegal campaign donations.

    Charles Kushner served 14 months of a two-year sentence in a federal prison in Alabama, before serving out the remainder of his term in a halfway house in New Jersey, only to be released in March 2006.

    He has since returned to his career in real estate. In an interview with The Real Deal, Charles Kushner spoke of the incident:

    “I believe that God and my parents in heaven forgive me for what I did, which was wrong. I don’t believe God and my parents will ever forgive my brother and sister for instigating a criminal investigation and being cheerleaders for the government.”

    As Kushner’s conviction had been a complicating factor in the company’s ability to get loans, according to David Enrich, a New York Times journalist, the pardon bears significant implications for Kushner Companies, potentially simplifying securing financing for its projects.

    Kushner Cos., according to its website, owns 17,000 apartments in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia and Tennessee. The Kushner family also reportedly controls 2,100 units in the East Village, Greenwich Village, Soho, the West Village, Brooklyn Heights and Williamsburg, as well as Northern Liberties, in Philadelphia.

    Jared Kushner has spoken openly about how his father’s imprisonment impacted his life, when he was in his early 20s and a law and business school student.

    He also claimed to have been inspired by his father’s time behind bars to back criminal justice reform legislation during the Trump administration.


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