Speed Reads


Trump pardons 3 former GOP congressmen, Blackwater guards convicted of killing Iraqi civilians

President Trump on Tuesday commuted the sentences of five people and pardoned 15 others, including four Blackwater guards convicted of killing Iraqi civilians in 2007 while working as contractors; two former Border Patrol agents convicted in 2006 of assault with a dangerous weapon and lying about a shooting; and George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser to Trump's 2016 campaign who later pleaded guilty to making false statements to federal officials as part of the Russia inquiry.

Papadopoulos isn't the only person connected with former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation to receive a pardon: Trump also granted clemency to Alex van der Zwaan, a lawyer who pleaded guilty in 2018 to making false statements to federal officials. Both Papadopoulos and van der Zwaan have already served short prison sentences.

Trump additionally pardoned three former Republican congressmen: Duncan Hunter of California, Chris Collins of New York, and Steve Stockman of Texas. Hunter pleaded guilty in 2019 to one charge of misusing campaign funds, and was going to start an 11-month prison sentence in January. Collins, one of Trump's earliest supporters, pleaded guilty in 2019 to making false statements to the FBI and conspiring to commit securities fraud; he is now serving a 26-month sentence. Stockman was convicted in 2018 on fraud and money laundering charges, and is now serving a 10-year sentence.

Harvard Law School Prof. Jack Goldsmith studied the pardons and commutations Trump granted prior to Tuesday, and found that 88 percent helped someone with a personal connection to Trump or "furthered his political aims," The New York Times reports. Trump is expected to pardon more people before he leaves office next month.