President Trump issues 15 pardons, including some connected to Russia investigation

President Donald Trump arrives to speak in the Rose Garden of the White House, Friday, Nov. 13, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump arrives to speak in the Rose Garden of the White House, Friday, Nov. 13, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Also pardons four government contractors over Baghdad massacre.

Posted: Dec 22, 2020 6:59 PM

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.

Trump also commuted the sentences of five people. While it is not unusual for presidents to grant clemency on their way out the door, 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 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. Trump commuted the sentence of former Rep. Steve Stockman of Texas.

Collins, the first member of Congress to endorse 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.

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 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, 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, 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 Trump’s apparent willingness to give the benefit of doubt to American servicemembers 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.”

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 697182

Reported Deaths: 8169
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1427711862
Ramsey59431953
Dakota53075503
Anoka48987486
Washington31228315
Stearns25428242
St. Louis20900339
Scott20039146
Wright18954165
Olmsted16269112
Sherburne13840106
Carver1237052
Clay936897
Rice9278125
Blue Earth888747
Crow Wing8070102
Kandiyohi753292
Chisago733858
Otter Tail689897
Benton6653102
Mower576238
Winona564852
Goodhue560581
Douglas549484
Beltrami534672
Itasca532572
Steele520221
McLeod519665
Isanti500470
Morrison478263
Nobles455650
Becker455060
Polk444575
Freeborn438142
Lyon402454
Carlton399160
Nicollet387848
Pine384026
Mille Lacs363860
Brown358244
Cass355536
Le Sueur348230
Todd333034
Meeker314049
Waseca297626
Martin271633
Wabasha25005
Dodge24865
Hubbard241941
Roseau238224
Houston211217
Redwood206642
Fillmore204510
Renville204248
Pennington196022
Wadena192927
Faribault184925
Sibley180310
Cottonwood179424
Chippewa173439
Kanabec168329
Aitkin159239
Watonwan157211
Rock142919
Jackson136112
Pope13378
Yellow Medicine128720
Pipestone126126
Koochiching125119
Swift120319
Murray117610
Stevens110011
Clearwater109218
Marshall107619
Lake94321
Wilkin91014
Lac qui Parle89424
Mahnomen7339
Big Stone7024
Grant6938
Norman6829
Lincoln6724
Kittson54222
Unassigned52893
Red Lake5067
Traverse4375
Lake of the Woods4204
Cook2150

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 443535

Reported Deaths: 6420
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk69441683
Linn26618363
Scott23312265
Black Hawk19397338
Woodbury17483233
Johnson1698692
Dubuque14775221
Pottawattamie13369186
Dallas13048102
Story1211448
Warren707893
Webster6479103
Cerro Gordo6370105
Clinton635898
Des Moines618084
Muscatine5985109
Marshall586981
Sioux547676
Jasper532076
Lee529084
Wapello5230128
Unassigned50150
Buena Vista479442
Marion464086
Plymouth442185
Henry351341
Jones341159
Bremer331365
Washington330454
Crawford326844
Carroll326553
Benton325756
Boone318636
Mahaska282754
Dickinson276547
Kossuth257471
Clay255629
Jackson253844
Tama246073
Hardin244547
Buchanan244238
Delaware240143
Cedar228025
Fayette227945
Page225724
Wright221741
Winneshiek219237
Hamilton216752
Harrison205476
Madison199920
Clayton199758
Floyd195742
Butler191936
Poweshiek188837
Mills188225
Iowa185927
Cherokee184740
Allamakee181152
Jefferson178238
Lyon178041
Calhoun172213
Hancock170336
Winnebago170131
Cass164356
Louisa161651
Grundy161335
Appanoose158149
Shelby156539
Emmet153241
Franklin152224
Humboldt151626
Union149937
Sac147922
Mitchell146143
Guthrie142132
Chickasaw141618
Palo Alto134527
Clarke130226
Montgomery127940
Keokuk121332
Monroe118733
Howard118422
Ida109838
Davis105025
Greene103012
Pocahontas102623
Monona99034
Lucas98523
Adair97734
Worth9558
Osceola84717
Decatur76710
Fremont76511
Van Buren75221
Taylor73412
Wayne66323
Ringgold63027
Audubon60114
Adams4254
Rochester
Clear
78° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 79°
Mason City
Clear
85° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 83°
Albert Lea
Partly Cloudy
81° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 81°
Austin
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 81°
Charles City
Partly Cloudy
84° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 83°
Warmup ahead of workweek
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events