In his latest wave of pardons ahead of his exit from the White House, United States President Donald Trump has commuted sentences of his closest allies, including his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, longtime associate Roger Stone and his son-in-law Jared Kushner's father Charles Kushner.

Paul Manafort was convicted in 2018 in an investigation into the alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US election, while Stone was convicted of lying to Congress about his attempts to contact Wikileaks, the website that released damaging emails about Trump's 2016 Democratic election rival Hillary Clinton, reports People magazine.

A commutation removes the punishment but leaves the conviction in place. Thanks to the pardon issued on Wednesday, Manafort will not be serving most of his seven-and-a-half-year prison term, and recently took to Twitter to express gratitude towards Trump. He wrote: "Mr President, my family & I humbly thank you for the Presidential Pardon you bestowed on me. Words cannot fully convey how grateful we are."

The pardon given to first daughter Ivanka Trump's father -in-law, Charles Kushner, comes as a bit of a surprise, as he had himself said he "would prefer not to have a pardon," due to the publicity that would inevitably follow. The 66-year-old, who is a real estate developer, pleaded guilty in 2004 to filing false tax returns, witness tampering, and making false statements to the Federal Election Commission as part of a prosecution by the then-U.S. Attorney Chris Christie. He was sentenced to two years in federal prison in 2005 after he pleaded guilty to 18 counts.

Chris Christie, the man who prosecuted Charles Kushner, has also served as an adviser to Trump. He was quoted by CNN as saying Kushner's case was "one of the most loathsome, disgusting crimes" he prosecuted. Kushner had famously admitted to smearing his own brother-in-law after he found out he had been cooperating with the prosecutors.

Kushner hired a prostitute to have sex with his brother-in-law, set up a hidden camera at a New Jersey motel, and then sent video of the encounter to the man's wife, Kushner's own sister.

Manafort, Stone, and Kushner are among the 29 people who have benefitted from Trump's latest pardons, amid accusations that the POTUS is taking unfair advantage of presidential powers before his inevitable departure from the oval office. Trump has already issued two sets of pardons and many more are anticipated before his presidency comes to an end in January.

The official statement released by the White House did not mention the familial relationship between the president and some of his allies who have been pardoned. It read about Charles Kushner: "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. 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 FEC."

Republican Senator Ben Sasse reacted to Wednesday's pardons in a strong six-word statement, saying: "This is rotten to the core."

While Political consultant David Axelrod described the pardons as unsurprising, he noted, "Everyone saw this raw sewage dump of pardons and commutations for @realDonaldTrump apparatchiks and loyalists coming. It's the least surprising news. Yet the spectacle is still appalling. And it's not over!"

Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump has fought against the election results that will end his time in office Photo: AFP / ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS