On the one hand, President Trump's latest batch of pardons was excellent news for the Kushner family. On the other hand, it has brought renewed attention to why Charles Kushner—the father of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner—needed a pardon in the first place. It's not a pretty tale. In fact, "it's one of the most loathsome, disgusting crimes that I prosecuted when I was US attorney," none other than Chris Christie said in a 2019 PBS interview, per Fox News. Details and related pardon coverage:
- The crimes: The elder Kushner, 66, is a New Jersey developer who served 14 months in prison more than a decade ago after being convicted of tax fraud and of making illegal campaign contributions, reports NJ.com. But the "loathsome" part Christie was talking about refers to a bizarre sting operation Kushner carried out on his own brother-in-law.
- The trap: Kushner admitted that he paid $25,000 to have a prostitute visit and seduce the husband of his sister in a motel room, and Kushner then sent the videotape to his sister. Why? Christie's office maintained Kushner was trying to intimidate his sister and keep her from testifying before a grand jury against him in the federal investigation. At the time, Charles Kushner also was having a nasty dispute with another sibling, brother Murray, a former business partner. Their sister had taken Murray's side, per NJ.com.
- Justification: "Since completing his sentence in 2006, Mr. Kushner has been devoted to important philanthropic organizations and causes, such as Saint Barnabas Medical Center and United Cerebral Palsy," says the president's statement on the pardon. "This record of reform and charity overshadows Mr. Kushner’s conviction and 2 year sentence for preparing false tax returns, witness retaliation, and making false statements to the Federal Election Commission."
- Blackwater reaction: Trump also pardoned four figures who worked as guards for the private military contractor Blackwater. All were convicted after 14 Iraqi civilians were killed and 17 wounded in a 2007 Baghdad ambush, per NPR. In Baghdad, news of the pardons brought sentiment like this: "I have always known that his murderers would get away with it somehow even after they were prosecuted," a former schoolmate of a slain medical student tells the Washington Post. "The pardon was inevitable."
- Blackwater II: The same Post story also incorporates the view of supporters of the men, who say they were unjustly vilified and imprisoned by their own government. The story details the different accounts of what happened when gunfire broke out that day in Nisour Square.
(Bad blood between Christie and Jared Kushner
because of the old prosecution reportedly surfaced in the Trump White House.)