The inside story of how a kosher meat kingpin won clemency under Trump

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It was presented as a bipartisan slam dunk; that rarest of moments when President Donald Trump was apparently swayed by letters of support from over 30 members of Congress, including his nemesis, then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, as well as dozens of legal experts. Now-Attorney General William Barr was on board with the decision. Pugnacious pundit and defense attorney Alan Dershowitz publicly took credit for persuading the President.

That was the tenor of the official story the White House rolled out in December 2017, announcing the Presidential commutation of the sentence of Sholom Rubashkin, the former CEO of America’s largest kosher meat processing plant who was convicted in 2009 of a series of fraud charges. Rubashkin’s legal troubles began in 2008, when a federal immigration raid, similar to the one just completed across Mississippi, discovered nearly 400 undocumented workers at his plant in Iowa.
But it wasn’t Pelosi or Dershowitz who convinced Trump to give clemency to Rubashkin. It was the persistence of his son-in-law Jared Kushner, according to the impression of three former officials close to the issue. It was Kushner, they say, who brought the Rubashkin case up to a dispassionate Trump several times in the summer and fall of 2017, before finally persuading him to make what would be his first commutation and only his second act of clemency.


Defendant Sholom Rubashkin listens to Rodney Heaston, not pictured, with Mechanical Industrial Services, testify during trial at the Black Hawk County Courthouse in Waterloo, Iowa on Tuesday, June 1, 2010. Rubashkin faces 83 counts of child labor violations stemming from a May 2008 immigration raid at the Agriprocessors Inc. kosher meatpacking plant in Postville. (AP Photo/The Waterloo Courier, Matthew Putney)Sholom Rubashkin, the former CEO of America’s largest kosher meat processing plant who was convicted in 2009 of a series of fraud charges.



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