The Blackwater guards Trump pardoned were jailed for a massacre of civilians, including 2 kids

Blackwater massacre in Baghdad
(Image credit: Ali Yussef/AFP/Getty Images)

The 15 people President Trump pardoned Tuesday evening include the first two congressmen who endorsed him for president — former Reps. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) and Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), both convicted of financial crimes — two people jailed in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, and four private guards working for Blackwater who were serving long sentences for an unprovoked and unnecessary 2007 massacre of civilians in Baghdad's Nisour Square that left 17 Iraqis dead, including two boys, ages 8 and 11.

Blackwater, since sold and renamed Academi, is a private military contractor outfit headed at the time by Erik Prince, brother to Trump's education secretary, Betsy DeVos. The Nisour Square massacre marked a low point in U.S.-Iraqi relations after the 2003 U.S. invasion, and federal prosecutors spent years bringing the four Blackwater guards — Nicholas Slatten, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty, and Dustin Heard — to justice.

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