WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump announced a flurry of pardons on Tuesday night, including two for men who pleaded guilty in the Robert Mueller investigation and Republican allies.
Mr. Trump pardoned former campaign aide George Papadopoulos, former US congressmen Duncan Hunter and Chris Collins, and four Blackwater guards who were involved in the Iraq massacre. These moves by the President kickstart what is expected to be a massive slew of pardons and commutations as Mr. Trump’s time in office begins to conclude.
Included in the group announced late Tuesday included Dutch lawyer Alex van den Zwaan, who was sentenced to 30 days in jail after pleading guilty to lying to Mueller investigators, two Border Patrol agents convicted of shooting an unarmed undocumented immigrant in 2006.
The news of the pardons come after the recommendation of Trump allies in Congress and several in conservative media, knowing Mr. Trump is a frequent watcher of Fox News, OANN, and Newsmax.
The President also included commuting the remaining prison term of former Rep. Steve Stockman in his announcement on Tuesday. Stockman is a Texas Republican who was convicted in the state of over two dozen crimes, including fraud and money laundering.
According to a press release from the White House, Stockman “has underlying pre-existing health conditions that place his health at greater risk during the COVID epidemic, and he has already contracted COVID while in prison.” Stockman had served two years of his 10-year sentence.
Both Papadopoulos and Van der Zwaan pleaded guilty to lying to investigators during the Russia investigation. Papadopoulos said he lied to investigators about his contacts with people connected to Russia, while Van der Zwaan spent a month in prison before being deported to Europe in 2018.
Hunter was sentenced earlier this year after being convicted for his misuse of more than $200,000 in campaign funds and “many members of Congress” recommended his pardon, according to the White House release.
Collins has been serving a 26-month prison sentence since October after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and one count of making a false statement.
The four Blackwater guards were convicted by a federal jury in 2014 after being accused of illegally unleashing “powerful sniper fire, machine guns and grenade launchers on innocent men, women and children.”
Two Border Patrol agents received 11- and 12-year prison sentences for their role in the shooting of an unarmed undocumented immigrant.
Trump to veto?
Elsewhere, Mr. Trump has hinted he may not sign a $900 billion coronavirus relief package just 24 hours after Congress passed it with bipartisan support.
The President released a campaign made video late Tuesday, calling the bill’s contents “wasteful and unnecessary”, while demanding Congress raise the stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000, or $4,000 for a couple.
“I am asking Congress to amend this bill,” Trump said. “I Congress to send me a suitable bill or else the next administration will have to deliver a Covid relief package and maybe that administration will be me and we will get it done.”
Mr. Trump’s comments and demands have cast doubt on if the relief money will even come. The President was not involved in the negotiations over the bill but has objected to the package now that an agreement has been reached.