President Trump’s lame-duck pardoning spree has begun. On Tuesday night, the president pardoned or commuted the sentences of 15 people, including four Blackwater mercenaries convicted for killing civilians in Iraq, three corrupt former Republican members of Congress, two targets of Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump and Russia, and two Border Patrol agents who attempted to cover up their shooting of a Mexican national fleeing arrest. In addition to this group, he also pardoned four nonviolent drug offenders and commuted the sentences of five other convicts. Below is the full, updated list.
George Papadopoulos and Alex van der Zwaan
A foreign-policy adviser for the Trump campaign in 2016, Papadopoulos pleaded guilty in 2017 to making false statements to federal investigators about campaign contacts with Russia. Alex van der Zwaan, a Dutch attorney, was hit with the same charge by Mueller in 2018. Both pleaded guilty and served short prison sentences.
According to the New York Times, the pardons related to the Mueller investigation are a “signal of more to come of people caught up” in the inquiry — almost surely a reference to Trump’s crooked former campaign manager, Paul Manafort. Already, Trump pardoned Michael Flynn and commuted the sentence of Roger Stone, both of whom were charged with lying to federal officials.
Trump also pardoned four contractors with the private military firm founded by Erik Prince formerly known as Blackwater. The contractors carried out the Nisour Square massacre in Baghdad in 2007, when they shot to death 17 civilians while escorting a U.S. embassy convoy. Nicholas Slatten was sentenced to life in prison after he was convicted of murder by firing unprovoked on an Iraqi civilian. Slatten’s three colleagues were convicted of manslaughter and weapons charges. Trump has previously granted clemency to American service members who were accused or convicted of war crimes.
Republican Ex-Representative Duncan Hunter
In December 2019, Representative Duncan Hunter of California pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds, one of 60 criminal charges he was facing for a scheme in which he was accused of illegally using $250,000 in campaign cash for five-figure trips abroad — and flights for the family rabbit. Hunter was scheduled to begin an 11-month prison sentence in January before he was pardoned.
Republican Ex-Representative Chris Collins
Collins, the first congressman to endorse Trump for president in the 2016 campaign, pleaded guilty last year to charges of conspiring to commit securities fraud and making false statements to the FBI. Collins fed inside information on a pharmaceutical company to his son in order to dump stock ahead of the share price nose-diving on news of a failed drug trial. Collins reported to prison in October of this year.
Republican Ex-Representative Steve Stockman
A former Texas Republican who lost the 2014 Senate primary to John Cornyn, Stockman was convicted in 2018 of 23 felony counts related to an effort to use charity contributions for personal and campaign use. He had served two years of his ten-year prison sentence prior to the commutation of his sentence.
Ignacio Ramos and José Compeán
In 2005, Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and José Compeán shot a Mexican man allegedly trafficking marijuana across the border near El Paso, Texas, and covered up evidence of the act by disposing of the shell cases and filing a false report. The agents’ sentences for the shooting had previously been commuted by President George Bush.
Other pardons and commutations recommended by Republicans
Trump also pardoned health-care fraudster Alfonso Costa; moonshine distiller Alfred Lee Crum; and Weldon Angelos, whose case was a rallying cause for advocates against mandatory sentencing minimums. The president has also commuted the sentences of Medicare fraudsters Judith Negron and Philip Esformes, as well as drug offenders Crystal Munoz and Tynice Nichole Hall.