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Washington - CNN: Jared Kushner Was The Driving Force Behind Rubashkin's Commutation

Published on: August 11, 2019 04:00 PM
By: CNN
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Washington - According to a new report by CNN, Jared Kushner was the one who convinced President Trump to grant clemency to Shalom Rubashkin, not any of the senators or community leaders as previously thought.

Sholom Rubashkin, the former CEO of America’s largest kosher meat processing plant, was convicted in 2009 of a series of fraud charges. Rubashkin’s legal troubles began in 2008, when a federal immigration raid discovered nearly 400 undocumented workers at his plant in Iowa. This was one of the biggest immigration raids at the time. In the aftermath, the picture that emerged in court papers was of a chaotically run business. Reports around the trial noted that Rubashkin had used $300,000 of company money to pay his credit card bills and $200,000 on a home renovation.

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Prosecutors argued that he fabricated documents that falsely claimed he had vast amounts of collateral, costing banks that loaned to him tens of millions of dollars. Although Rubashkin was initially charged with immigration offenses, prosecutors focused on Rubashkin’s financial abuses.

In 2010 when Rubashkin received a 27-year sentence there was a public outcry, not least because the sentence exceeded the prosecutors’ request, which had been for 25 years. Six former US attorneys general wrote to the judge, Linda K. Reade, to complain. In an unusual move, before formally sentencing Rubashkin, Reade released a 52-page document explaining her decision. In addition to his prison term, Reade ordered Rubashkin to pay back nearly $27 million in restitution.

Over the next several years, Rubashkin’s lawyers made various attempts to appeal the ruling, including all the way until December 2017, the same month that Trump commuted his sentence. In their appeals, Rubashkin’s lawyers claimed Reade had been too closely involved with the US Attorney’s office and its planned raid on Rubashkin’s plant. Prosecutors subsequently said that Reade was not told in advance where the operation would take place and that she was not told about the targets.

Before leaving office, Obama rejected Rubashkin’s appeals for clemency. By then, his lawyers were lobbying intently for high-level political and legal support. Among them was Gary Apfel, a prominent California corporate lawyer who also represents the Aleph Institute, a non-profit organization affiliated with the orthodox Chabad Lubavitch movement that Rubashkin belongs to. Apfel had read about Rubashkin’s case and had asked to take him on as a client pro bono.

The Aleph Institute reached out to the former Harvard law professor, Alan Dershowitz, who says he was asked to do a legal analysis of the government’s role in the sentencing. Apfel says he was the one who directly reached out to legal experts and members of Congress including Pelosi.

Enter the Kushners.

CNN reports that according to 3 former officials close to the issue, Jared Kushner brought the Rubashkin case up to the president several times in the summer and fall of 2017.

Despite the case being brought to the president several times, it still took him months to decide what course of action to take. “What do you think I should do?” He occasionally asked a group of his advisers who were non-committal, according to one source.

According to a source with knowledge, Charles Kushner also started to lobby the New York legal community the moment Trump won the 2016 election. In January 2017, Reade denied Rubashkin’s motion to be resentenced. Soon after, Jared Kushner took up Rubashkin’s cause inside the White House.

Charles Kushner’s attorney said he understood Dershowitz’s lobbying is what deserves credit. “Anyone who helped get Rubashkin out deserves a medal, not criticism,” said Benjamin Brafman.

It is not known if the Kushners personally knew Rubashkin. But Charles Kushner has talked about the gratitude he has felt toward the Chabad Lubavitch movement. A Chabad rabbi took Kushner, an observant Jew, kosher meals and helped him with religious obligations while he served 14 months of a two-year prison sentence in Montgomery, Alabama, for witness tampering, tax evasion and illegal campaign contributions. President Trump has also welcomed the Lubavitch group into the White House.

In assessing the Rubashkin case, the President turned to three White House officials— Donald F. McGahn, Chief White House Counsel, whose office is the liaison with the Justice Department; Staff Secretary Rob Porter, a lawyer who at the time was a particularly trusted adviser to Trump; and newly-installed chief of staff, Gen. John Kelly, who was supposed to vet all political decisions. All three have left the White House.

Kelly had come to the job with a mandate of instituting a level of order and discipline into the chaotic West Wing. Kelly bristled at the Rubashkin issue, and “wanted to get the case off his desk,” according to a former colleague. McGahn disliked it too, according to two sources close to McGahn, largely because of its association with immigration. Though McGahn felt the Rubashkin case had some merit, given the disparity between his crime and sentence, he ultimately took a neutral position, feeling there would be more serious issues on which to oppose the President’s son-in-law. It was a case of: “pick your battles [with Kushner],” said someone close to McGahn.

Porter, a Harvard-educated lawyer with whom the President had a special rapport, took a nuanced view, say sources, feeling that on the one hand it was a clear act of favoritism, but that, given the widespread political support for clemency, the optics were much less controversial than the Arpaio pardon which Porter and others had delayed, fearing a backlash.

Kushner, meanwhile, educated himself on the facts of the case; his senior aide Avrahm (Avi) Berkowitz had several conversations with Alan Dershowitz who provided him with information about the case, that he in turn got from Apfel.

Apfel told CNN that Dershowitz was his main avenue into the White House, but that he had also liaised directly with McGahn’s then-deputy Uttam Dhillon. “There’s never been a more outrageous case than this,” said Apfel, adding: “it’s just nasty” to suggest there might “be more compelling cases.”

Dershowitz has previously taken credit for persuading the President on the issue, claiming to the the Jewish newspaper The Forward that it was because he had explained to Trump the belief that prosecutors in the case had deterred prospective buyers, thus driving down the price of the business, which Rubashskin’s lawyers claimed led him to commit fraud. “When I explained that to the President, he understood that from a business point of view,” Dershowitz told The Forward.

Dershowitz denied ever speaking with Kushner on the subject, though he does admit speaking fairly frequently to Berkowitz. “I had no knowledge [that the Kushners] were involved,” Dershowitz told CNN. Dershowitz says his meeting with Trump took place in person a few months before the actual commutation.

Ultimately Trump signed the commutation after Kushner had pushed a number of times as Chanukah was approaching. The President liked the idea of doing something that could play well in the Orthodox Jewish community, according to a former senior White House official with direct knowledge of the President’s thinking at the time. And he was buoyed by the reaction among anti-immigration voters in his base to the Arpaio pardon. The irony of the contradictory politics in the two clemency cases never struck him, at least visibly, says a White House source.

Rubashkin’s commutation was met with ecstatic approbation in the Orthodox community in Brooklyn where he was greeted “like a war hero” according to someone who witnessed his return from prison.

But the arguments made to the President by Kushner only went so far. The commutation of Rubashkin’s sentence is not the equivalent of a pardon. A point stressed in the official White House announcement. Though he walked out of prison in Otisville, New York, a free man, Rubashkin still has to pay nearly $27 million in restitution and has a supervised release for five years.

According to a former senior White House official who spoke with Kushner frequently, the President’s son-in-law had already been asking about the broader issue of criminal justice reform, even as the Rubashkin case played out. “I think it’s fair to say that all of this started with his perception that people that he knew, including his father, had been treated unjustly,” the former official said. Last year Kushner played a pivotal role in getting the so-called First Step Act passed into law, which essentially gives non-violent offenders a chance to re-enter society more quickly and easily than previously.

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Read Comments (36)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Aug 11, 2019 at 04:46 PM Anonymous Says:

The sentence was way way too long. obumma freed Russia spies without a trial, this is nothing said but commuting Rubashkin sentence and the communist news network is still talking

2

 Aug 11, 2019 at 05:01 PM Anonymous Says:

Waiting to see how soon Yonasan the dyslexic and his ilk will start their temper tantrums.

3

 Aug 11, 2019 at 05:58 PM Anonymous Says:

Hooray for Rutrashkin. Any frum Yid who commits crimes and exploits immigrants is automatically one of the Gedolim, if not one of the 36 Just Men. Kushner's so-called involvement merits him a seat in the crooked hall of shame. Maybe he can exonerate his tati and his demented father in lust.

4

 Aug 11, 2019 at 05:56 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

The sentence was way way too long. obumma freed Russia spies without a trial, this is nothing said but commuting Rubashkin sentence and the communist news network is still talking

Obum also freed some domestic terrorists who bombed restaurants that caused deaths.

5

 Aug 11, 2019 at 06:06 PM Educated Archy Says:

Yes we owe the president a huge ohev yisroel hakaras a
Hatov for this . There was no benefit or money or votes from freeing him.

And yes the first step act is vital to end mass incarceration for white collar criminals . When someone who is a family man with a strong social life is ripped away from his wife kids that punishment is far more cruel than to a homeless. Person of color with no life anyhow

6

 Aug 11, 2019 at 06:28 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #3  
Anonymous Says:

Hooray for Rutrashkin. Any frum Yid who commits crimes and exploits immigrants is automatically one of the Gedolim, if not one of the 36 Just Men. Kushner's so-called involvement merits him a seat in the crooked hall of shame. Maybe he can exonerate his tati and his demented father in lust.

Here Yonasan or Yamsar or Hashomer the usual cranks posts as anonymous.

7

 Aug 11, 2019 at 06:30 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #5  
Educated Archy Says:

Yes we owe the president a huge ohev yisroel hakaras a
Hatov for this . There was no benefit or money or votes from freeing him.

And yes the first step act is vital to end mass incarceration for white collar criminals . When someone who is a family man with a strong social life is ripped away from his wife kids that punishment is far more cruel than to a homeless. Person of color with no life anyhow

These cranks are full of hate, They hate a frum Jew more than they hate Trump.

8

 Aug 11, 2019 at 06:41 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #5  
Educated Archy Says:

Yes we owe the president a huge ohev yisroel hakaras a
Hatov for this . There was no benefit or money or votes from freeing him.

And yes the first step act is vital to end mass incarceration for white collar criminals . When someone who is a family man with a strong social life is ripped away from his wife kids that punishment is far more cruel than to a homeless. Person of color with no life anyhow

Incarceration for white collar crime is a deterrent, causing people to think before they considering committing crimes. Without incarceration white collar crime would be more prevalent than it now is. One may think if there's just a fine, a big payoff for a fraud is worth the gamble.

9

 Aug 11, 2019 at 06:50 PM CORRECTION Says:

Reply to #3  
Anonymous Says:

Hooray for Rutrashkin. Any frum Yid who commits crimes and exploits immigrants is automatically one of the Gedolim, if not one of the 36 Just Men. Kushner's so-called involvement merits him a seat in the crooked hall of shame. Maybe he can exonerate his tati and his demented father in lust.

Rubashkin didn't exploit immigrants, he employed them as did Donald Trump and Devin Nunes. He was convicted for a technical infraction of a statute regarding payment for livestock

10

 Aug 11, 2019 at 06:51 PM Phineas Says:

Give Kushner credit for that at least. I don't think he's accomplished much but at least he helped free Rubashkin who got railroaded.

11

 Aug 11, 2019 at 07:28 PM Larry Says:

Reply to #3  
Anonymous Says:

Hooray for Rutrashkin. Any frum Yid who commits crimes and exploits immigrants is automatically one of the Gedolim, if not one of the 36 Just Men. Kushner's so-called involvement merits him a seat in the crooked hall of shame. Maybe he can exonerate his tati and his demented father in lust.

On all day, today u Talk like this. You need to repent fast!

12

 Aug 11, 2019 at 07:51 PM Gersey Says:

Thanks and congrats to Moshe M - The Shadchin
When you pressure those who are connected-IT WORKS!!!!

13

 Aug 11, 2019 at 07:56 PM mkansari Says:

Most of the white collar crimes are committed by people of Jewish faith.
These are the most greediest people. Ready about major financial crimes and you will find them. Bernie Madoff,
Etc.
Also read about moral and sexual crimes, Harvey Weinstein, Polanski, Epstein, the list goes on.

14

 Aug 11, 2019 at 08:19 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #3  
Anonymous Says:

Hooray for Rutrashkin. Any frum Yid who commits crimes and exploits immigrants is automatically one of the Gedolim, if not one of the 36 Just Men. Kushner's so-called involvement merits him a seat in the crooked hall of shame. Maybe he can exonerate his tati and his demented father in lust.

You’re a rusha!

15

 Aug 11, 2019 at 08:28 PM PaulinSaudi Says:

It is remarkable to me how often there are scandals in the kosher food industry.

16

 Aug 11, 2019 at 08:32 PM Torah Jew Says:

After reading #3, who still asks why Mashiach isn’t here yet? How utterly sad! Tell me ur not a Jew!

17

 Aug 11, 2019 at 08:36 PM Zimri Says:

Reply to #5  
Educated Archy Says:

Yes we owe the president a huge ohev yisroel hakaras a
Hatov for this . There was no benefit or money or votes from freeing him.

And yes the first step act is vital to end mass incarceration for white collar criminals . When someone who is a family man with a strong social life is ripped away from his wife kids that punishment is far more cruel than to a homeless. Person of color with no life anyhow

So a white collar criminal like Bernie Madoff who stole millions from many Jews and Jewish organizations should get a slap on the wrist because he has a nice family while a homeless person who steals a loaf of bread to feed himself goes to prison because he doesn't have a family. Right!

18

 Aug 11, 2019 at 09:25 PM Phineas Says:

No, white collar criminals have destroyed people's lives, destroyed marriages and families. It's just that Rubashkin's sentence, when held up to Boesky, Milken, Bakker, Raj Rajaratnam, the Otisville crowd, etc. was out of synch.

19

 Aug 11, 2019 at 10:54 PM ANON321 Says:

If Rubashkin would’ve cooperated with prosecutors he would have gotten a better sentence. But upon his stupid attorneys advice he chose to fight the feds. A very dumb thing to do. No one beats the feds. Almost no one. You make a deal. But they were so sure they’ll show that the judge was biased that they had the nerve to fight. Meanwhile to prove bias in a judge is one of the hardest things to do in the legal system. So bad advice. Bad counseling those attorneys should be out of business. Regardless it’s all over because he only served 7 yrs which was probably appropriate

20

 Aug 11, 2019 at 11:53 PM Feh Says:

Reply to #3  
Anonymous Says:

Hooray for Rutrashkin. Any frum Yid who commits crimes and exploits immigrants is automatically one of the Gedolim, if not one of the 36 Just Men. Kushner's so-called involvement merits him a seat in the crooked hall of shame. Maybe he can exonerate his tati and his demented father in lust.

You should be ashamed of yourself. Are you a Jew? Did tisha b’av which ended just a couple hours ago, not affect you in any way?????

21

 Aug 11, 2019 at 11:54 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #6  
Anonymous Says:

Here Yonasan or Yamsar or Hashomer the usual cranks posts as anonymous.

THEY ARE ALL ONE AND THE SAME PERSON

22

 Aug 12, 2019 at 12:13 AM rachelw Says:

Reply to #13  
mkansari Says:

Most of the white collar crimes are committed by people of Jewish faith.
These are the most greediest people. Ready about major financial crimes and you will find them. Bernie Madoff,
Etc.
Also read about moral and sexual crimes, Harvey Weinstein, Polanski, Epstein, the list goes on.

You are full of it and a rabid anti-Semite to boot. Let’s see now: Daniel Marino, John Rusnak, Rick Causey and his Enron buddies, like Jeffery Skilling and Kenneth Lay, Toshihide Iguchi, Nick Leeson, Bernard Ebbers, Jerome Kerviel, Allen Stanford, John Rigas, Joe Nacchio, James McDermott Jr. - nice Jewish sounding names, no? Greed is a negative character trait of the human race. Doesn’t favor any in particular. Only in the eyes of scum like you.

23

 Aug 12, 2019 at 07:27 AM Anonymous Says:

Obama freed an unrepentant terrorist and an unrepentant traitor while Trump freed an oversentenced Jew.

24

 Aug 12, 2019 at 07:28 AM Educated Archy Says:

Reply to #8  
Anonymous Says:

Incarceration for white collar crime is a deterrent, causing people to think before they considering committing crimes. Without incarceration white collar crime would be more prevalent than it now is. One may think if there's just a fine, a big payoff for a fraud is worth the gamble.

You can make that argument for all crimes yet at a certain point compassion needs to kick in . Like you can say it stops people from taking drugs too

Furthermore , If you lock someone up for 2 years vs 10 years I do not think he is scared off more . He is either afraid of prison or not .

Lastly white collar crimes are really not such cruel crimes why must its enforcement be so tough

25

 Aug 12, 2019 at 07:32 AM Educated Archy Says:

Reply to #18  
Phineas Says:

No, white collar criminals have destroyed people's lives, destroyed marriages and families. It's just that Rubashkin's sentence, when held up to Boesky, Milken, Bakker, Raj Rajaratnam, the Otisville crowd, etc. was out of synch.

Oh please white collar crimes usually don't destroy many . Yes Bernie was an extreme and he maybe deserves it . But most crimes like tax evasion etc never really hurt anyone . Stop it with your tricky yoni hyper arguments . Sure you'll find but we are discussing things like what rubashkin did . Piety crimes and cruel punishments

26

 Aug 12, 2019 at 08:58 AM Sociologist Says:

Well Kushner comes from a family of tzadikim

27

 Aug 12, 2019 at 10:24 AM Educated Archy Says:

Reply to #13  
mkansari Says:

Most of the white collar crimes are committed by people of Jewish faith.
These are the most greediest people. Ready about major financial crimes and you will find them. Bernie Madoff,
Etc.
Also read about moral and sexual crimes, Harvey Weinstein, Polanski, Epstein, the list goes on.

Most of the white collar crimes are committed by people of Jewish faith.
These are the most greediest people

Ok so whats your point? I still think the punishment is far to excessive.

re sexual crimes. thats fake news and nonsense. Sure you'll find a few jews but its not in any higher proportion. Baloney ust to say loshoin hara and besmirch jews.

28

 Aug 12, 2019 at 10:26 AM Educated Archy Says:

Reply to #19  
ANON321 Says:

If Rubashkin would’ve cooperated with prosecutors he would have gotten a better sentence. But upon his stupid attorneys advice he chose to fight the feds. A very dumb thing to do. No one beats the feds. Almost no one. You make a deal. But they were so sure they’ll show that the judge was biased that they had the nerve to fight. Meanwhile to prove bias in a judge is one of the hardest things to do in the legal system. So bad advice. Bad counseling those attorneys should be out of business. Regardless it’s all over because he only served 7 yrs which was probably appropriate

Your advice is very true. You can't beat people out on a whitchhunt. just proves that justice is perverted in our country. If you mess with them they hit back. Its all a game and not honest.

Re the 7 years which was probably appropriate . Wrong you liar. maybe 1 year is appropriate. 7 years is cruel.

29

 Aug 12, 2019 at 02:09 PM dbraum Says:

Very interesting article. Please fix spelling at the beginning "leadrs" is misspelled... "leaders"

30

 Aug 12, 2019 at 02:22 PM Phineas Says:

Reply to #25  
Educated Archy Says:

Oh please white collar crimes usually don't destroy many . Yes Bernie was an extreme and he maybe deserves it . But most crimes like tax evasion etc never really hurt anyone . Stop it with your tricky yoni hyper arguments . Sure you'll find but we are discussing things like what rubashkin did . Piety crimes and cruel punishments

Not talking about tax evasion. I'm talking about Ponzi schemes. That's also a while collar crime. I'm talking about all of the people who invested in real estate deals in New York and Florida (Rothstein) and lost their money to total shams.

31

 Aug 12, 2019 at 02:34 PM yochy Says:

If CNN reports it - it is probably not true. I have never heard something reported by them to be fully true and completely devoid of fake news. I am not about to believe this is the first thing that is.

32

 Aug 12, 2019 at 02:37 PM Educated Archy Says:

Reply to #30  
Phineas Says:

Not talking about tax evasion. I'm talking about Ponzi schemes. That's also a while collar crime. I'm talking about all of the people who invested in real estate deals in New York and Florida (Rothstein) and lost their money to total shams.

Granted so i think a fair statement would be the following. Rather than looking at a crime and how many statutes you broke or how many laws you violated we should be looking at how many people you directly hurt due to your crime. Brak fraud and tax evasion, sure you indirectly hurt people by it's not impactfull on anyone in a meaningful way. There are probably more statutes broken for some of those frauds vs say a ponzi scheme. I'd caution though that even in a pnzi schme like by maddoff most people got most of their money. At the end of the day the crimes wasn't as impactful. But yes its definitely was worse. And we should punish more for ponzi schemes.

I still don't see any point at this time in not letting maddoff go. I think his life is ruined anyhow and if the past wasn't a deterrent , another 10 years will be? But I kind of get that you need to take a tough stance on ponzi schemes. All other crimes let them go.

33

 Aug 12, 2019 at 02:42 PM Lirch Says:

Reply to #15  
PaulinSaudi Says:

It is remarkable to me how often there are scandals in the kosher food industry.

Yes how often?

34

 Aug 12, 2019 at 02:46 PM Rangers Goalie Says:

Reply to #20  
Feh Says:

You should be ashamed of yourself. Are you a Jew? Did tisha b’av which ended just a couple hours ago, not affect you in any way?????

I know this guy personally. He is Jewish but a big rosha!

35

 Aug 12, 2019 at 03:25 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #13  
mkansari Says:

Most of the white collar crimes are committed by people of Jewish faith.
These are the most greediest people. Ready about major financial crimes and you will find them. Bernie Madoff,
Etc.
Also read about moral and sexual crimes, Harvey Weinstein, Polanski, Epstein, the list goes on.

Post your anti semitism on your home websites in Iran.

36

 Aug 12, 2019 at 08:38 PM Phineas Says:

Reply to #32  
Educated Archy Says:

Granted so i think a fair statement would be the following. Rather than looking at a crime and how many statutes you broke or how many laws you violated we should be looking at how many people you directly hurt due to your crime. Brak fraud and tax evasion, sure you indirectly hurt people by it's not impactfull on anyone in a meaningful way. There are probably more statutes broken for some of those frauds vs say a ponzi scheme. I'd caution though that even in a pnzi schme like by maddoff most people got most of their money. At the end of the day the crimes wasn't as impactful. But yes its definitely was worse. And we should punish more for ponzi schemes.

I still don't see any point at this time in not letting maddoff go. I think his life is ruined anyhow and if the past wasn't a deterrent , another 10 years will be? But I kind of get that you need to take a tough stance on ponzi schemes. All other crimes let them go.

I dont think Madoff would be safwcput of prison

37

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