UNITED STATES

Trump pardons 15, including allies, campaign officials

Dec 22, 2020, 5:59 PM | Updated: 6:47 pm
Trump December pardons 2020...
FILE - In this Oct. 25, 2018, file photo, George Papadopoulos, the former Trump campaign adviser who triggered the Russia investigation, arrives for his first appearance before congressional investigators, on Capitol Hill in Washington. On Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020, President Donald Trump pardoned 15 people, including Papadopoulos, his 2016 former campaign adviser whose conversation unwittingly helped trigger the Russia investigation that shadowed Trump’s presidency for nearly two years. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump on Tuesday pardoned 15 people, including Republican allies, a 2016 campaign official ensnared in the Russia probe and former government contractors convicted in a 2007 massacre in Baghdad.

Pres. Trump also commuted the sentences of five people. While it is not unusual for presidents to grant clemency on their way out the door, Mr. Trump has made clear that he has no qualms about intervening in the cases of friends and allies whom he believes have been treated unfairly. Despite speculation, though, not on the list were members of Mr. Trump’s own family, his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and the president himself.

The pardons included former Republican Reps. Duncan Hunter of California and Chris Collins of New York.  Pres. Trump commuted the sentence of former Rep. Steve Stockman of Texas.

Collins, the first member of Congress to endorse Mr. Trump to be president, was sentenced to two years and two months in federal prison after admitting he helped his son and others dodge $800,000 in stock market losses when he learned that a drug trial by a small pharmaceutical company had failed.

Hunter was sentenced to 11 months in prison after pleading guilty to stealing campaign funds and spending the money on everything from outings with friends to his daughter’s birthday party.

Mr. Trump also announced pardons for allies ensnared in the Russia investigation. One was for George Papadopoulos, his 2016 campaign adviser whose conversation unwittingly helped trigger the Russia investigation that shadowed Pres. Trump’s presidency for nearly two years. He also pardoned Alex van der Zwaan, a Dutch lawyer who was sentenced to 30 days in prison for lying to investigators during special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

Van der Zwaan and Papadopoulos are the third and fourth Russia investigation defendants granted clemency. By pardoning them, Mr. Trump once again took aim at Mueller’s probe and pushed a broader effort to undo the results of the investigation that yielded criminal charges against a half-dozen associates.

Last month, Pres. Trump pardoned former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who had twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, and months earlier commuted the sentence of another associate, Roger Stone, days before he was to report to prison.

In the group announced Tuesday night were four former government contractors convicted in a 2007 massacre in Baghdad that left more a dozen Iraqi civilians dead and caused an international uproar over the use of private security guards in a war zone.

Supporters of Nicholas Slatten, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard, the former contractors at Blackwater Worldwide, had lobbied for pardons, arguing that the men had been excessively punished in an investigation and prosecution they said was tainted by problems and withheld exculpatory evidence. All four were serving lengthy prison sentences.

The pardons reflected Mr. Trump’s apparent willingness to give the benefit of doubt to American service members and contractors when it comes to acts of violence in warzones against civilians. Last November, for instance, he pardoned a former U.S. Army commando who was set to stand trial next year in the killing of a suspected Afghan bomb-maker and a former Army lieutenant convicted of murder for ordering his men to fire upon three Afghans.

“Paul Slough and his colleagues didn’t deserve to spend one minute in prison,” said Brian Heberlig, a lawyer for one of the four pardoned Blackwater defendants. “I am overwhelmed with emotion at this fantastic news.”

 

Today’s Top Stories

United States

A woman pumps gas at a gas station....
Britt Johnson

Could a gas strike work? One expert doubts it

A gas strike effort by Tucson residents caught social media attention recently, but could a strike actually drive prices down?
1 day ago
This June 5, 2013, image provided by the California Department of Water Resources shows a drip irri...
JESSICA DAMIANO Associated Press

Tips for growing a healthy garden during drought

Watering needs for plants could increase during periods of extreme heat, when the soil dries out more quickly.
2 days ago
Frankfurter-munching phenom Joey “Jaws” Chestnut has gobbled his way to a 15th win at the Natha...
By JENNIFER PELTZ and JULIA NIKHINSON Associated Press

Joey Chestnut is chomp champ again in July 4 hot dog contest

NEW YORK (AP) — Frankfurter-munching phenom Joey “Jaws” Chestnut put a protester in a chokehold while gobbling his way to a 15th win Monday at the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July hot dog eating contest, powering down 63 hot dogs and buns at the annual exhibition of excess. In a decisive chowdown comeback, women’s record-holder […]
3 days ago
President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference on the final day of the NATO summit in Madrid, ...
DARLENE SUPERVILLE and ZEKE MILLER Associated Press

Biden says transatlantic alliance has adapted to new threats

Biden's comments came at a press conference in Madrid at the conclusion of the annual meeting of NATO leaders and after he attended a summit with the Group of Seven advanced democratic economies in the Bavarian Alps.
7 days ago
A Rite Aid logo is displayed on its store...
HALELUYA HADERO, AP Reporter

Amazon, Rite Aid cap purchase of emergency contraceptives

Retailers limiting purchases is standard practice that helps retailers prevent stockpiling and reselling at higher prices.
7 days ago
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul stands with Lieutenant governor Antonio Delgado during their primary ele...
STEVE PEOPLES AP National Politics Writer

Takeaways from first primaries since Roe v. Wade overturned

The abortion debate consumed the nation this week, but there was no race where it mattered more than Colorado's Republican primary for the U.S. Senate, where businessman Joe O'Dea became one of the only abortion-rights-supporting Republicans in the nation to win a statewide primary this year.
8 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
Trump pardons 15, including allies, campaign officials