President Trump is covering all his bases.
While I don’t think he’s going anywhere for the next 4 years, he’s still taking the wise steps of issuing pardons right now to right many wrongs.
I’m sure these are things he wanted to do several years ago, but he waited until after the election.
Here’s the scoop:
BREAKING: Pres. Trump has issued a flurry of pardons and commutations to a slew of controversial figures with ties to his administration, in a move that further cements his legacy of exercising his sweeping powers to benefit his political allies. https://t.co/XQXi8cHYlH
— ABC News (@ABC) December 23, 2020
From ABC News:
Here are some of the most notable pardons and commutations granted on Tuesday:
Former California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter pleaded guilty in December 2019 to one count of conspiracy in a case surrounding his alleged misuse of $250,000 in campaign donations for personal expenses such as family vacations and oral surgeries. He also allegedly had used some of that money to finance romantic trysts with multiple congressional aides and lobbyists, according to court filings from federal prosecutors. Hunter was sentenced to 11 months in prison in March. He once called the investigation a politically motivated witch hunt.
Former New York Republican Rep. Chris Collins, the first member of Congress to endorse Trump in the 2016 election, was indicted in August 2018 for alleged insider trading related to an Australian biotechnology company, Innate Immunotherapeutics. Collins, who sat on the board of the company, allegedly shared nonpublic information about a failed drug trial with his son, who passed it along to his future father-in-law and others. The tests results were made public four days later, and Innate stock dropped 92% — but not before Collins, his son, and his son’s future father-in-law had avoided $768,000 in losses. Collins began serving his 26-month prison sentence in October.
George Papadopoulos was a novice, unpaid foreign policy adviser to candidate Donald Trump when he became the first former campaign adviser arrested as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. He was sentenced in 2018 to 14 days incarceration after pleading guilty to making false statements to FBI agents about his correspondence with Russian nationals and his attempts to arrange a meeting between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. At sentencing, Papadopoulos told the judge he “made a dreadful mistake. I am a good man.” After serving his sentence, Papadopoulos pivoted away from contrition and took to denouncing the Russia investigation as, in his words, “the deep state’s attack on our president.” He had also been open about wanting a pardon, recently telling ABC News’ Chicago affiliate that he would be “honored to accept one.”
Papadopoulos told ABC News that the pardon was “the ultimate Christmas gift.” He said he is “forever grateful to finally have this chapter close, not only for myself and family but in many ways the entire country who lived it ,too.”
Four former employees of the shadowy military contracting firm Blackwater Worldwide earned commutations on Tuesday, ending lengthy prison sentences for those responsible for one of the most scandalous episodes of the war in Iraq. In 2007, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty, Dustin Heard, and Nicholas Slatten gunned down more than a dozen unarmed Iraqis, prompting outcry from human rights organizations and sparking a public debate about the military’s use of private contractors in conflict zones. Blackwater’s founder, Erik Prince, is the brother of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and a forceful ally of the Trump administration.
Crystal Munoz was previously granted clemency by President Trump in February for what the White House said was her “small role” in a marijuana drug smuggling ring. Munoz, whose case was championed by Alice Johnson, spent the past 12 years in prison showing model behavior, the White House said at the time of her clemency, and “mentored people working to better their lives, volunteered with a hospice program, and demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to rehabilitation.”
Tynice Nichole Hall, a 36-year-old mother, was granted clemency by President Trump in February. At the time, Hass had served nearly 14 years of her 18-year sentence imposed for allowing her apartment to be used to distribute drugs, the White House said. Hall, who was championed by Alice Johnson, worked towards getting her college degree while in prison and helped other inmates with their educational programs, the White House said, and “had accepted responsibility for her past behavior and has worked hard to rehabilitate herself.”
It was 15 pardons and 5 commutations in total:
Breaking: President Trump issued 15 pardons and five commutations, including ex-campaign adviser George Papadopoulos and former Reps. Chris Collins and Duncan Hunter https://t.co/DIuuuBThQF
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) December 23, 2020
From CNN (so you’ll have to excuse the bias):
President Donald Trump on Tuesday announced a wave of lame duck pardons, including two for men who pleaded guilty in Robert Mueller’s investigation, as well as ones for Republican allies who once served in Congress and military contractors involved in a deadly shooting of Iraqi civilians.
The pardons of former campaign aide George Papadopoulos, former US congressmen Duncan Hunter and Chris Collins, and the four Blackwater guards involved in the Iraq massacre kick off what is expected to be a flurry of pardons and commutations in the coming weeks as Trump concludes his term.
Also included in the batch announced on Tuesday are Alex van der Zwaan, the Dutch lawyer who was sentenced to 30 days in jail after pleading guilty to lying to Mueller investigators; two Border Patrol agents convicted in 2006 of shooting and wounding an unarmed undocumented immigrant and then covering it up; and several people convicted of non-violent drug crimes serving lengthy sentences.
The pardons came at the recommendation of Trump allies in Congress and, in some cases, the conservative media. Many of the non-violent drug offenders were recommended for clemency by Alice Johnson, the former federal inmate whose sentence Trump commuted at the urging of Kim Kardashian West.
Mueller investigation pardons
The pardons give forgiveness to two early defendants who pleaded guilty and served prison time in the Mueller investigation: 2016 campaign foreign policy adviser Papadopoulos and Van der Zwaan, who was part of a major investigation by Mueller into illegal foreign lobbying efforts and the Ukrainian and Russian connections of Trump campaign adviser Paul Manafort.
Both Papadopoulos and Van der Zwaan pleaded guilty to lying to investigators during the Russia investigation. And neither provided Mueller with any meaningful cooperation, prosecutors said.
Papadopoulos had lied to investigators about his contacts with people connected to Russia, including discussing with them “dirt” that could hurt Hillary Clinton in 2016 and a possible trip by Trump during the campaign to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin.
At his sentencing, Papadopoulos’ then-lawyer called him “pro-FBI” and said he had lied so he might still be considered for a job in the Trump administration. The defense lawyer, Thomas Breen, effectively blamed Trump for publicly urging people such as Papadopoulos to disregard the Russia investigators. “The President of the United States hindered this investigation more than George Papadopoulos ever could,” Breen argued.
“I made a terrible mistake,” Papadopoulos told the judge during his sentencing hearing. “In hindsight, lying to federal agents about such a critical issue could have harmed our nation.”
He spent less than two weeks in prison in late 2018. Since then, he’s railed against the investigators and how they caught him.
Van der Zwaan, who is also the son-in-law of the Ukrainian-Russian billionaire German Khan, spent almost a month in prison before being deported to Europe in June 2018. He showed “muted” remorse at his sentencing, the judge noted.
“This is not something that happened to him. This is something he did,” federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson said at Van der Zwaan’s sentencing. “He put his personal interest ahead of the interest of justice.”
More recently, Papadopoulos ran for Congress in California’s 25th District in 2019 following Democratic Rep. Katie Hill’s resignation. He lost the race for the open seat in the March primary.
Former congressmen pardoned
Hunter, who was sentenced earlier this year to 11 months in prison and three years of supervised release related to his misuse of more than $200,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses, was recommended for a pardon by “many members of Congress,” according to the White House release.
The former California lawmaker pleaded guilty in December 2019 to one count of conspiracy to misuse campaign funds and was set to be on supervised release for three years after serving his prison sentence. He was also required to participate in a drug and alcohol treatment program. Hunter would have started his sentence in May, but it was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic, and he would have reported to a federal prison in West Texas in January 2021.
Hunter and his wife were indicted in August 2018 for lavishly spending on “items as inconsequential as fast food, movie tickets and sneakers; as trivial as video games, Lego sets and Playdoh; as mundane as groceries, dog food, and utilities; and as self-indulgent as luxury hotels, overseas vacations, and plane tickets for themselves, their family members, and their pet rabbits Eggburt and Cadbury,” according to prosecutors.
Federal prosecutors charged that Hunter had fraudulently spent more than $200,000 on expenses that included a $14,000 Italian vacation and thousands of dollars on routine items like groceries, bedding and other household items.
Hunter resigned from Congress in January, after winning reelection in California’s 50th Congressional District, which encompasses much of eastern San Diego County.
Collins, a former New York congressman, has been serving his 26-month prison sentence in a minimum-security federal prison in Florida since October.
Collins pleaded guilty in October 2019 to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and one count of making a false statement.
While attending the White House’s annual congressional picnic in June 2017, Collins had shared non-public information with his son Cameron about the failed trial results for a multiple sclerosis drug the Australian biotech company Innate Immunotherapeutics Limited, of which he was a board member, was developing. He later lied to FBI agents to cover it up. The stock trades allowed Cameron Collins, a co-defendant in the case, to avoid over $750,000 in losses, according to federal prosecutors. Collins himself did not trade on the information.
Collins had initially fought the charges against him, calling them “meritless” when they were first brought in 2018. He even won reelection while under indictment. But in his guilty plea last year in federal court, Collins expressed regret and said that putting his son “in this jeopardy at this young age … is something I will live with for the rest of my life.”
Collins resigned from Congress on September 30, 2019, a day before his guilty plea. He had represented New York’s 27th Congressional District for nearly seven years.
The four Blackwater guards — Nicholas Slatten, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty, and Dustin Heard — were convicted by a federal jury in 2014 after a lengthy trial that saw some 30 witnesses travel from Iraq to testify against them. Prosecutors accused the men of illegally unleashing “powerful sniper fire, machine guns and grenade launchers on innocent men, women and children.”
According to prosecutors, the four were among seven Blackwater employees who opened fire in the Nusoor Square traffic circle in Baghdad, killing 17 people.
An FBI investigation found 14 of the deaths unjustified, according to rules of engagement for private security contractors in Iraq. Slatten was accused of firing the first shots.
Blackwater said its convoy came under attack, and defense attorneys said in court that witness accounts were fabricated. But witnesses testified that the contractors opened fire without provocation.
The left has hilariously already concluded this is somehow because of Russia:
Pretty obvious what Trump is trying to do with the bulk of these and past pardons – he's covering his tracks with Russia.
— Amy Siskind 🏳️🌈 (@Amy_Siskind) December 23, 2020
They are not handling it well:
BREAKING: Trump pardons two former congressman convicted of felonies — Chris Collins and Duncan Hunter.
— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) December 23, 2020
Now, the big question next on everyone’s mind is…..is Assange next?
— One America News (@OANN) December 22, 2020
I want to be very clear about my opinion here.
Pardon Assange, yes 100%!
That man is indisputably a major patriot!
But Snowden is and always has been Deep State CIA.
One is still being persecuted and his life ruined by the Deep State (Assange).
The other is free and doing interviews on Joe Rogan (Snowden).
Need I say more?
Are you awake yet?
Are you connecting dots yet?
No better example than this.