The president issued 15 pardons and five commutations to allies, including two figures who plead guilty in special counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry on Russian interference in the 2016 US elections. On Tuesday, the president pardoned George Papadopoulos, a former adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to federal officials during the Russia investigation, and Alex van der Warn, a Dutch lawyer and son-in-law of the Russian billionaire German Khan.
Photograph: Marko Georgie/Papadopoulos and Van her Warn were the third and fourth people pardoned for charges in connection to the Russia inquiry. In November, Trump pardoned his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about contacts with a Russian official.
The president, who has long derided the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election as a “hoax”, has been expected to dole out pardons to those implicated in the inquiry. Tuesday’s rash of pardons was also bestowed upon four former Blackwater contractors who were convicted on charges related to a 2007 massacre in Iraq.
Stone, 68, was convicted of lying to Congress and obstructing a congressional investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election. Trump ’s pardon “underscores the urgent need to hold Mr Manafort accountable for his crimes against the People of New York as alleged in our indictment, and we will continue to pursue our appellate remedies”, Danny Frost, a spokesman for Vance, told CNBC.
It is unclear whether the president will issue more pardons, which the White House has discussed handing out “like Christmas gifts”, Axis has reported. Trump also commuted the sentence of former Rep. Steve Stock man (R-Texas), who was convicted in 2018 on a variety of fraud and money laundering charges.
A few of Tuesday’s grants are part of a modest number of pardons and commutations Trump has offered to convict whose cases were pursued by prominent criminal justice reform advocates. Trump ’s predecessor, President Barack Obama, issued far more in those sorts of cases and actively solicited clemency applications.
Some advocates for greater use of presidential pardon and commutation powers expressed disappointment that Tuesday’s list did not include a batch of applicants who came through the Justice Department office that fields such requests. “I am optimistic there will be further grants soon that go to ordinary people that applied in the regular order through the established process and have been patiently waiting, sometimes for years,” she said.
“We are both very happy!” Papadopoulos said in a brief message to POLITICO when asked about his pardon, a reference to him and his wife Simona Marginate Papadopoulos, who also played a brief role in the Mueller probe. He admitted that he lied to the FBI and lawyers for Mueller’s office during questioning about his involvement with a report the firm prepared in 2012 at the request of the Ukrainian government.
The two men, whose sentences were commuted by President George W. Bush in 2009, became a cause among immigration hardliners like Fox News host Lou Dobbs, who has outsized influence in Trump ’s orbit. Trump effectively wiped out the convictions of four contractors for the former Blackwater Worldwide security firm in connection with a shooting spree in Baghdad’s Ni sour Square that left 17 Iraqis dead and 20 wounded.
One of the former Blackwater contractors granted a full pardon Tuesday by Trump, Nicholas Flatten, was serving a sentence of life in prison for first-degree murder. After an early legal stumble led to dismissal of the first indictment in the case, then-Vice President Biden visited Iraq in 2010, expressed “personal regret” for the killings and promised to appeal.
Trump could have simply commuted the sentences of the four men, but he granted them full pardons, suggesting he viewed their convictions as unjust. President Donald Trump on Wednesday evening announced 26 new pardons, including ones for longtime ally Roger Stone, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner’s father, Charles.
The pardons of Manafort and Stone reward two of the most high-profile and widely condemned former advisers of the President, both of whom were indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller, went to trial and were convicted by juries of multiple crimes. Charles Kushner, meanwhile, had been prosecuted by then-US Attorney for New Jersey Chris Christie in the early 2000s for tax evasion, witness tampering and illegal campaign contributions.
Margaret Hunter had pleaded guilty last year to conspiring “knowingly and willingly” to convert campaign funds for personal use. The pardons issued Tuesday include two men who pleaded guilty in former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, two former Republican congressmen and four former Blackwater Worldwide military contractors responsible for the shooting deaths of 14 Iraqis in 2007.
George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy adviser for Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, was pardoned after pleading guilty to making false statements to federal officials as part of Mueller's investigation. Trump also pardoned Paul Slough, Evan Liberty, Dustin Heard and Nicholas Slate, four former employees of the military contracting firm Blackwater Worldwide who were sentenced for their roles in a massacre in Iraq in 2007 that resulted in the deaths of 14 unarmed Iraqis.
They include several former campaign figures, multiple former Republican lawmakers, a Dutch lawyer charged as part of the Russia investigation, the father of Trump ’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and four former government contractors convicted of killing Iraqi civilians. Photograph: Seth Being/AP Paul Manafort is the disgraced former chairman of Donald Trump ’s 2016 presidential campaign, who was sentenced in 2019 to seven and a half years in prison for charges that emerged from the Russia investigation.
Manafort was once a high-flying lobbyist, serving as a consultant to the former Angolan rebel leader Jonas Saving and the former Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos. Manafort, 70, was among the first in Trump ’s inner circle to face charges brought by the special counsel Robert Mueller ’s inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
However, he was released from prison in May of this year over coronavirus concerns, and was due to serve out the rest of his sentence under home confinement. Photograph: Anatole Agency/Getty Images Roger Stone is a longtime friend of Donald Trump and notorious Republican fixer who has worked with political figures including Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.
Stone, 67, was convicted in November 2019 of lying under oath and obstructing a congressional investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election. In the process of the Trump -Russia investigation, which led to a string of indictments, Mueller and his team also revealed evidence of communications between Stone and WikiLeaks related to the release of hacked Democratic Party emails.
In a rare public statement following that earlier commutation, Mueller wrote: “The Russia investigation was of paramount importance. He was sentenced to two years in prison after pleading guilty in 2004 to 18 counts of tax evasion and making unlawful campaign donations.
Photograph: Leah Mills/Reuters Alex van der Warn is the Dutch son-in-law of the Russian billionaire German Khan. Van her Warn had previously worked with Paul Manafort, Trump ’s disgraced former campaign manager who was also imprisoned on charges resulting from the Russia investigation.
A former lawyer at the prominent firm Sadden Arms, Van her Warn worked on a 2012 report commissioned by Manafort to defend the former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych from international criticism. Photograph: Yuri Grips/Reuters George Papadopoulos was a former adviser to the Trump campaign who became the second person to be sentenced to prison as the result of the Mueller investigation.
Papadopoulos was sentenced to 14 days in prison after he pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents about contacts with a Kremlin-linked professor who informed him in April 2016 that the Russians had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton and “thousands of emails”. Photograph: Gregory Bull/AP Duncan Hunter is a former Republican congressman from California whose political career was brought to an end by corruption charges in 2018.
Hunter was indicted in August of that year after being accused of using $200,000 in campaign money to fund family travel, school tuition, jewelry, groceries and gas. He tried to conceal the illegal spending by listing them in federal records as donations for military veterans and other campaign-related expenses, according to the indictment.
Photograph: Justin Lane/EPA Collins is a former congressman from New York who was indicted in 2018 on charges he passed inside information about a biotechnology company to family members, so they could profit from illicit trades. The White House said Stock man 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 that he pay more than $1m in restitution.
Costa participated in a “healthcare fraud scheme of several years’ duration beginning in approximately 1995, involving false insurance billing for dental care”, according to court documents. Now a self-employed real estate speculator with properties in Pennsylvania, New York City, Florida and elsewhere, Costa is also a business associate and close friend of Ben Carson, Trump ’s housing secretary.
Alfred Lee Drum, 89, who had pleaded guilty in 1952 to helping a relative illegally distill moonshine in Oklahoma. Philip Lyman, who was a county commissioner in Utah when he was prosecuted for protesting the Bureau of Land Management’s closure of a canyon to ATV riders.
President Donald Trump has prepared a sweeping list of individuals he’s hoping to pardon in the final days of his administration that includes senior White House officials, family members, prominent rappers -- and possibly himself, according to people familiar with the matter. The biggest question facing his legal team may be whether the president has the authority to pardon himself, as he has discussed in recent weeks with top aides, according to the people familiar with his conversations.
A self-pardon could also prove a major political liability and hamstring another presidential bid, with opponents sure to suggest the self-pardon amounted to an admission that he thought he might be prosecuted for breaking the law. The president’s eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, her husband, Jared Kushner, who both hold White House positions, are also under consideration, the people said.
He’s also considering a traditional pardon for Albert Piero, who previously worked with the president on real estate deals and was convicted of tax fraud. Other prominent celebrities including rapper Little Yacht and Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson have publicly lobbied Trump to pardon Kodak Black, who said in a now-deleted tweet that he would donate $1 million to charity if the president freed him.
Trump ’s list is currently being vetted by lawyers who are concerned that pardons could create new allegations of obstruction of justice for members of the administration. While some proposed pardons have moved through the legal steps needed inside the White House, the idea of a self-pardon is far less developed, the people say, and so far only at the discussion stage.
A self-pardon could shield Trump from prosecution over a myriad of issues his political opponents have suggested could be worthy of prosecution, from his federal income tax filings to hush money payments to an adult film star to his inaugural committee’s spending at venues owned by the Trump family. Some Democrats have continued to say Trump should face legal scrutiny over the Russian interference campaign during the 2016 election, despite Special Counsel Robert Mueller finding no evidence the president colluded with the Kremlin.
And in recent days, Trump has drawn scrutiny over his effort to pressure officials in Georgia to overturn the results of the presidential election there, as well as inciting what became a violent mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Brian Salt, a professor at Michigan State University College of Law who has written extensively about self- pardons, said it’s not clear whether the president can do it.
Trump ’s pardoning power only extends to federal crimes, meaning he could not protect himself or his family from legal trouble on the state level. Among those pardoned in recent days were Trump ’s 2016 campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who’d been convicted of financial crimes and illegal lobbying, and Charles Kushner, the real estate developer and father of the president’s son-in-law.