Trump forgives Russia interrogation figures and black water guard

In a pre-Christmas round of pardons, President Trump on Tuesday granted clemency to two men who pleaded guilty in the Russia investigation of special counsel, four Blackwater guards convicted in the case of killing Iraqi civilians and three corrupt former Republican members of Congress .

It was a notable claim of pardon power by a president who continues to hold his losses in the election and may also have other apologies in the weeks before he leaves office on 20 January.

Mr. Trump made the legal consequences of an investigation in his 2016 campaign more clear that he cheated a long time. He pardoned contractors whose actions created an international uproar in Iraq and helped to advance public opinion against the war there. And he forgave three members of his party who had become high-profile examples of public corruption.

15 forgiveness and five uproar Made public by the White House in a statement On Tuesday evening. He appeared in many cases bypassing the traditional Justice Department review process – more than half of cases not meeting the department’s standards for consideration – and Mr. Trump’s long-standing concerns about the Russia investigation Reflected, his tendency with members to do wrong on military allies and his willingness to reward political allies.

If there are hundreds of pardon seekers looking for a way to influence Mr. Trump, as he apologizes before leaving office. The statement highlighted several prominent Republicans and Trump allies, who weighed in on the amnesty granted. Among them was Pam Bondi, a former Florida attorney general and lobbyist who helped protect Mr. Trump during impeachment, and Fox News commentator Pete Haggs carried past pardons of service members.

One of the most notable Sorry George went to Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser for Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign, and who in 2017 Special Counsel Robert S. As part of the investigation by Muller III, federal officials were convicted for making false statements.

Alex van der Zwan, a lawyer who pleaded guilty to the same charge in 2018 in connection with the investigation of the special counsel, was also pardoned. He and Mr. Papadopoulos pronounced short prison sentences.

According to those close to the president, the pardon related to Mueller is a signal for those caught in the investigation.

Mr. Trump has already pardoned his first National Security Advisor, Lieutenant General Michael T. Flynn, Who blamed the culprits twice, including lying on the FBI in connection with the Russia investigation. In July, the President Sentenced to Roger J. Stone Jr., His longtime mentor who was convicted on a series of charges related to the investigation. Both men maintain their innocence.

Mr. Trump’s Tuesday pardon list included four former US service members who were convicted in 2007 of charges related to the killing of Iraqi civilians while working as contractors for Blackwater.

One of them, Nicholas Slayton, was sentenced to life in prison after going to great lengths to prosecute him by the Department of Justice. Mr. Slayton was a contractor for the private company Blackwater and was sentenced for his role 17 Iraqi civilians killed in Nissour Square, Baghdad – A massacre that left one of the most lasting stains of war on the United States. The dead were two boys, 8 and 11.

Three former members of Congress waived by Mr. Trump, Duncan D. of California. Hunter was Chris Collins of New York and Steve Stockman of Texas.

Mr Hunter was set to begin an 11-month sentence next month. He pleaded guilty to one charge of misuse of campaign funds in 2019.

Mr. Trump, an early supporter of Mr. Trump, was serving a 26-month sentence after pleading guilty to charges of making false statements to the FBI in 2019 and conspiring to commit securities fraud.

Mr Stockman was convicted in 2018 on charges of fraud and money laundering and serving a 10-year sentence. Sidney Powell, lawyer and election conspiracy theorist Mr. Trump The White House considered making special counsel To investigate election fraud, he argued that he was a candidate for pardon.

The president also granted a full pardon to two former Border Patrol agents whose former president, George W., for his role in the alleged drug smuggling shooting. Bush was applauded.

Mr. Trump’s move on Tuesday supports the notion that he has used his pardon power more aggressively than most presidents for personal and political purposes. Under the Constitution, the President is the last emergency break on the criminal justice system.

A table by Harvard Law School professor Jack Goldsmith found that before Mr. Trump’s 45 pardons or pleas Tuesday, 88 percent of people went to people with personal ties to the president or to pursue their political objectives.

“Trump continued the unprecedented trend of issuing self-serving apologies and taking vengeance against his personal interests, award friends, enemies or advancing political constituencies,” Mr. Goldsmith said on Tuesday. “Like his previous apologies, most if not all of them appear to be based on internal recommendations rather than the usual Department of Justice decisions.”

Two of Mr. Trump’s close associates have direct connections among Blackwater contractors: Eric Prince, former head of Blackwater and Betsy DeVos, sister of Education Secretary Mr. Prince.

Mr. Prince’s own conduct was investigated by the Office of the Special Counsel. During the 2017 transition, Mr. Prince planned to meet with a Russia-sanctioned banker in the Seychelles so that the Russian government and the incoming Trump administration could cooperate. For reasons that remain unclear, the meeting never took place.

By canceling the legal consequences of the convicts in the Russia investigation, Mr. Trump ran a long campaign, William P., his late Attorney General. Aided by bur. To undo Mr. Muller. investigation, Resulting in defaming the prosecution and punishing those who instigated it in the first place.

The White House continued to take away the legacy of the Mueller investigation in a statement released Tuesday night. It is a point to say that the investigation found “no evidence of collusion in relation to Russia’s attempts to interfere in the election,” and referred to Mr Papadopoulos’ crime as a “related process”.

Mr. Papadopoulos, 33, Spend 12 days in jail For lying to the FBI about his contact with Russian intermediaries during the 2016 presidential race. He later published a book that portrayed himself as a victim of a “deep state” of “bringing down President Trump”. In an interview last month, he welcomed the possibility of clemency.

“Of course I would be honored to be honored,” Mr. Papadopoulos said.

Mr van der Zwan was sentenced to 30 days in prison in April 2018 for lying in the Office of the Special Counsel about his contacts with a business associate, a Russian intelligence officer who had led Mr Trump’s former campaign chairman Worked closely with , Paul Manafort.

Mr Manafort was convicted in 2018 on a number of charges including tax and bank fraud. He was ordered to serve a combined seven years in prison. This year, Mr. Manafort was sentenced to home imprisonment due to fear of coronovirus spread in jails.

Mr. Manafort had agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, and pleaded guilty to some of the charges against him, but the prosecution later accused him of misleading and to no avail in the investigation. Mr. Manafort’s colleagues expect Mr. Trump to forgive him.

Two other individuals convicted in the Russia investigation – Mr. Manafort’s deputy, Rick Gates, and the president’s former personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen – are seen as potential candidates for an apology from Mr. Trump. Both men collaborated with the president in the investigation.

The case involving Blackwater contractors was one of the following points in the Iraq War: the killing of civilians in Nisaur Square, which Destroyed any remaining credibility the United States had with the Iraqis.. The case highlighted the external role that military contractors played in helping US military forces in Iraq and made several revelations about how American contractors were acting like sluggish militias across the country.

The prosecution proved to be a huge headache for the Justice Department, as investigators first needed to gather evidence at a crime scene on the other side of the world. In 2009, a federal judge dismissed cases against four of the contractors, arguing that investigators relied on tainted evidence.

Two years later, the federal appeals court in Washington overturned that decision. Although the case was reopened, it took years to resolve. In 2019, Mr. Slutton was sentenced to life imprisonment in prison, which prosecutors alleged was his role in the first shootout in Nisaur Square, in which a civilian was killed and contractors fired from grenades and machine guns in a crowd Fired.

A ruckus in the White House list stood for the recipient’s connection. The White House said Philip Medformas, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison last year for Medicaid fraud, was recommended by two former attorneys general, Edwin Messe and Michael Mukes, among others.

Peter Baker contributed reporting.

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