Throughout his presidency, Trump has dealt with each of his many problems by creating a diversion to draw everyone's attention to something else so that they don't focus on his latest screw up - and the pardons are another example of that.
Bill Barr is being criticized by a number of people and organizations due to his apparent politicalization of the Justice Department, which Trump would prefer ignored. He also wants to divert attention from the Stone trial itself, since Stone definitely has some "dirt" on Trump AND he also has connections to Russia.
What connects all the people pardoned by Trump is the fact that all of them committed financial crimes investigated by the FBI. Since his inauguration, Trump has gone out of his way to purge the FBI of employees with “extensive experience in probing money laundering and organized crime, particularly as they pertain to Russia.” .These people include Robert Mueller, James Comey, Bruce Ohr, Andrew McCabe, and Lisa Page.
It's possible that the pardons are designed to discredit the FBI’s financial crimes unit even further, both to set up a pardon for his friend, adviser, and self-proclaimed dirty trickster Roger Stone, and to try to pull the fangs of the upcoming discussion of his own financial records, currently moving toward a crisis.
In March, the Supreme Court will begin to hear three cases concerning whether or not two banks and his accounting firm must hand over his financial records to congressional investigators, as lower courts have ordered.
In one of the cases, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has asked for financial records as he looks into potential lawbreaking in New York related to hush-money paid to adult film actress Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal.
In the other two cases, Congress has subpoenaed the financial records on two grounds: first, to see if more ethics-in-government legislation is needed (this is to address the requirement that Congress must have a legislative reason to make such inquiries); and to pursue an investigation into foreign money laundering.
The Soviet Union ceased to exist on December 25, 1991. Suddenly, many companies that had been owned by the state became privately owned, and a number of oligarchs suddenly had a lot of money - which they needed to hide.
Between 1991 and 2009, Trump filed for bankruptcy six times. (The six bankruptcies were the result of over-leveraged hotel and casino businesses in Atlantic City and New York: Trump Taj Mahal (1991), Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino (1992), Plaza Hotel (1992), Trump Castle Hotel and Casino (1992), Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts (2004), and Trump Entertainment Resorts (2009).
About the time Trump filed bankruptcy the first time, all those rich oligarchs decided that investing in real in the United States would be a smart thing to do. A Reuters review has found that at least 63 individuals with Russian passports or addresses have bought at least $98.4 million worth of property in seven Trump-branded luxury towers in southern Florida, according to public documents, interviews and corporate records.
If you dig into Trump Tower itself, you'll find that you'll find plenty of Russians there as well.
Due to his many bankruptcies, most banks would not lend money to him. The only exception is Deutschbank. Starting in June of 2019. the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation is examining whether Deutsche Bank complied with laws meant to stop money laundering. Five months later, on November 19, 2019, Thomas Bowers, a Deutsche Bank executive who approved various loans that the bank had approved for Donald Trump, committed suicide in his home in Malibu, California.