Trump’s pardon of drug dealer sabotaged major criminal investigation, report says

At time of pardon, Jonathan Braun had served a quarter of his ten-year sentence

Maroosha Muzaffar
Monday 27 November 2023 07:48 GMT
Related: Fani Willis appears in court to argue Trump co-defendant’s bond should be revoked

Donald Trump’s pardon of loan shark Jonathan Braun on his last day in office in 2021 “destroyed” a Department of Justice investigation, according to a report.

Braun was convicted of running an illegal marijuana cartel. He was one of the 142, including rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black, who were issued surprise pardons by Mr Trump in the waning hours of his presidency.

At the time of his pardon, Braun had served a quarter of his ten-year sentence.

The commutation of his sentence reportedly dealt a “substantial blow” to the Justice Department’s criminal investigation that was aimed at members of the predatory lending industry who harmed small businesses.

The New York Times report added that the commutation “destroyed” any leverage the government had in the investigation.

The report also revealed ties between Braun and Jared Kushner and his father Charles Kushner in guiding the pardon proposal for Trump.

Mr Braun’s family reportedly used a connection to Charles Kushner, the father of Jared Kushner to bring the case before Mr Trump, according to NYT.

The report also mentioned that the language for the news release announcing commutations for Mr Braun and others was drafted by Jared Kushner’s White House office.

After being released from prison in early 2021, Braun resumed his involvement in the merchant cash advance industry, the report added, facing renewed allegations from regulators and certain customers who accused him of employing intimidating tactics.

The Braun family hired Alan Dershowitz, a pro-Trump lawyer with connections to Jared Kushner, to advocate for his request. Individuals who interacted with Braun subsequently informed investigators that they were informed of the Braun family’s role in securing the commutation, citing their connections to the Kushner family, the report states.

Mr Trump declared that should he be re-elected as president, he planned to issue more pardons, specifically for those convicted in connection with the 6 January Capitol attack. He also told his allies privately that he intended to pardon higher-level people who were involved in efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

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