Charles Kushner, the father of President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared, who is a senior adviser to Trump, was fully pardoned by the president on Wednesday night.
Kushner was one of 26 people to whom Trump granted a full pardon, who also converted part or all of the sentences of another three people.
Kushner’s history in the Garden State is long, including nearly two years in prison for a bizarre tax fraud case.
Who is Charles Kushner?
The son of Holocaust survivors, Kushner grew up in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Elizabeth, where his father Joseph worked as a carpenter and later a builder who purchased and managed small plots of land.
A graduate of New York University in 1976, Kushner earned an MBA and law degree and practiced law for four years before starting a real estate business with his father and his wife’s brother.
Together they built a sprawling real estate empire with more than $ 3 billion in real estate in New Jersey and beyond. The company mainly built on the acquisition of existing properties and made money renovating or upgrading structures to get higher rents.
However, the structure of Kushner’s diverse businesses and Byzantine partnerships also proved to be an efficient political fundraising mechanism known as “pooling,” which Kushner took to a new level so that he could use his real estate empire around a political agenda advance on high octane.
He supported Governor James McGreevey, Cory Booker, in his first run against Newarker Mayor Sharpe James and the Bill Clinton campaign.
He was a player in state and national politics, running fundraisers for President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, and Senator Joseph Lieberman, all of whom paid for calls to his Florham Park office or Livingston home.
Kushner was the largest campaign contributor for McGreevey when it ran in 2001, and was later appointed by the governor to be the powerful chairman of the New York and New Jersey Port Authority.
What was Charles Kushner’s scandal?
Kushner was investigated by then-US attorney Chris Christie after a bitter family dispute with former partner and brother Murray over accounting for campaign contributions in a case.
Kushner later admitted cheating on the IRS between $ 200,000 and $ 325,000 by filing 16 tax returns claiming these political contributions as “office expenses” and admitted that he lied to the federal election commission when he was Reported $ 385,000 in political contributions from its business partners. The partners stated that they did not know about the donations.
Authorities also accused Kushner of paying US $ 25,000 to induce a prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law and then had the motel-tryst videotaped his sister.
Christie’s office accused Kushner of attempting to intimidate his sister after she represented Murray in the tax proceedings and had witnessed the federal investigation. Kushner admitted orchestrating the retaliation and pleaded guilty to violating tax and campaign laws and obstructing justice.
Kushner served 14 months of a two-year prison sentence in federal prison, the maximum sentence allowed under an objection agreement.
What was the impression of the scandal at that time?
Speaking at a news conference after Kushner pleaded guilty, Christie stated, “No matter how rich and powerful you are, or poor and powerless, if you have broken federal law in New Jersey District or if you corrupt our political system, this office will get you bring to court. Charles Kushner was tried today. “
In a 2019 interview with Margaret Hoover on Firing Line, Christie described the Kushner’s actions as one of the “most heinous, repulsive crimes” he’d ever prosecuted.
“Mr. Kushner pleaded guilty,” Christie said. “He committed the crimes. And what am I supposed to do as a prosecutor? I mean, if a man hires a prostitute to seduce and videotape his brother-in-law, and then sends the video to his sister to prevent her from testifying before a grand jury, do I really need more justification than that? I mean, it’s one of the most heinous, disgusting crimes I’ve prosecuted as a US attorney! “
Jared Kushner, who played a major role in the 2016 presidential election victory and joined the White House as a senior advisor, never forgot Christie’s role in overthrowing his father. Kushner’s first actions later included ousting Christie as head of Trump’s transition team and killing any consideration for his possible election as vice president.
Christie downplayed stories about his relationship with Jared Kushner, insisting that it was “old history” and that he and Jared get along “just great”.
In his most recent memoir, however, the former governor blamed the younger Kushner for failing to consider Trump’s cabinet years after his father was prosecuted.
Why was Kushner pardoned?
The president said Wednesday that former U.S. attorney for Utah, Brett Tolman, and Matt Schlapp and David Safavian of the American Conservative Union were in favor of a pardon for Charles Kushner.
“Since his conviction in 2006, Mr. Kushner has dedicated himself to important philanthropic organizations and causes such as the Saint Barnabas Medical Center and United Cerebral Palsy,” said Trump’s statement. “These record of reforms and charity overshadow Mr. Kushner’s conviction and two-year prison sentence for filing false tax returns, retaliation by witnesses and giving false testimony to the Bundestag Electoral Commission.”
Trump has pardoned 49 people in the past two days, including the full pardon for 15 people on Tuesday when he also converted part or all of the sentences of five other people.
In practice, a full and unconditional pardon has no immediate effect on Kushner. He had already spent his time in prison and supervised each release.
According to the Justice Department, a pardon is “an expression of the President’s forgiveness and is usually granted in recognition of the applicant’s acceptance of the applicant’s responsibility for the crime and determination of good conduct for a substantial period of time after the conviction or termination of the sentence.”
It doesn’t mean innocence. However, it removes civilian disabilities – such as restrictions on the right to vote, exercising state or local office, or serving on a jury – imposed as a result of the apologized conviction, and should reduce the stigma that builds results from the conviction. This can also be helpful for obtaining licenses, bonds, or employment.
Does the Kushner Company still have real estate in New Jersey?
Kushner Companies remains heavily invested in New Jersey real estate.
A dispute with Jersey City over a development project in Journal Square was recently settled. Construction of the proposed Twin Square Towers for Journal Square should begin next year and include a 10-story residential car park, retail and equipment area, Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop said in October.
In January, the Kushner Companies received approval to build 590 apartments and nearly 100,000 square feet of retail space in a redevelopment area in Long Branch on the largely vacant eastern end of downtown.
Also in Long Branch, the company continued the development of Pier Village. A mixed-use seaside project that includes shops and luxury living space.
In a 2019 statement, Kushner defended the family business, its businesses, and his son Jared’s role in it.
At the time, Kushner said the company was financially healthy and declined to media portrayal of the company and its family.
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Chris Sheldon can be reached at [email protected].
Ted Sherman can be reached at ts[email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @TedShermanSL.