Trump announces 15 pardons, including two for people convicted in Russia

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump granted full pardon to George Papadopoulos, a former campaign aide who pleaded guilty as part of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Trump also pardoned Alex van der Zwaan, 36, the Dutch son-in-law of the Russian billionaire German Khan. Van der Zwaan was sentenced to 30 days in prison and fined $ 20,000 for lying to US Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators about contacts with an official in Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Their names were part of a wave of forgiveness before Christmas announced by the White House. Trump granted 15 people full pardon and commuted all or part of five other punishments.

The list included three former Republican lawmakers. Four former US service members were also reached – Nicholas Slatten, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard – who were convicted of killing Iraqi civilians while working as entrepreneurs in 2007.

Papadopoulos, 33, was an adviser to Trump’s 2016 campaign. He pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to FBI agents about the timing and significance of his contacts with people who claimed to have ties to top Russian officials.

“The accused’s crime was serious and caused damage to the government’s investigation into Russian interference during the 2016 presidential election,” a statement on sentencing from then-Special Councilor Robert Mueller had said.

He served 12 days in a 14-day federal prison and was then placed in a 12-month supervised release.

The White House said Papadopoulos was accused of “a process-related crime, a bill for making false statements,” as part of the Mueller probe, which Trump had condemned as a witch-hunt.

“Today’s pardon helps to correct the error that Mueller’s team inflicted on so many people,” the White House said.

The pardons were part of a series of actions expected by the outgoing Republican president before Democratic president-elect Joe Biden takes office on January 20. Trump, who has refused to admit it, has made unfounded allegations of widespread voting fraud and pursued a series of failed lawsuits to overturn the result.

Last month, Trump pardoned his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who had twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI during Russia’s investigation. The Flynn pardon condemned Democrats and other critics.

Former legislator

Three former Republican lawmakers, including former New York Rep. Chris Collins, were also pardoned or sentenced.

Collins, 70, had been the first sitting congressman to support Trump’s candidacy in 2016 and was a strong defender of the president. He won re-election in 2018 but resigned next year.

“In 2019, Collins pleaded guilty to the charges of conspiring to commit securities fraud and making false statements to the FBI. Collins is currently serving his 26-month sentence,” the White House said. Trump also issued a full pardon to former Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter in California, 44, who a year ago pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiring to convert campaign funds to personal use, a felony with a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

The president commuted the remaining jail time to former Republican Rep. Steve Stockman of Texas, 64, who was convicted in 2018 of charity abuse.

The White House said he had served more than two years of his 10-year sentence and would remain subject to a period of supervised release and an order requiring him to pay more than $ 1 million in repayment.

Trump also commuted the remaining period of the supervised release of Crystal Munoz, who was convicted of conspiracy to distribute marijuana.

Munoz spent years in a federal prison in Fort Worth, along with Alice Johnson, who was granted charity by Trump in 2018 in a case fought by reality TV star Kim Kardashian West.

(REUTERS)