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Trump pardons 15 including US vets and a campaign aide – here’s who else

President Donald J. Trump in the Oval Office of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)
December 22, 2020

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump pardoned 15 individuals, including two charged in connection to Special Counsel Robert Muellers investigation of alleged collusion between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government.

In total, Trump granted full pardons to 15 individuals and clemency to an additional five individuals, according to a White House press release. Among those pardoned were ex-Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulous and Alex van der Zwaan, both of whom the Trump White House said were charged with process-related crimes related to Mueller’s investigation.

Papadopoulous pleaded guilty to making a false statement to investigators and previously served 12 days in jail in prison.

“At the time that Mr. Papadopoulos allegedly made the false statements, he was not represented by counsel, and, after he was arrested, Mr. Papadopoulos gave additional information on his prior statements to the Special Counsel,” the White House said. “Today’s pardon helps correct the wrong that Mueller’s team inflicted on so many people.”

Van der Zwaan, a Dutch citizen, was similarly charged with a single count of making false statements to investigators and voluntarily returned to the U.S. to surrender his passport and correct his statements, according to the White House.

“None of his underlying conduct was alleged to have been unlawful, nor did prosecutors note any prior criminal history,” the White House said of Van der Zwaan’s case.

Trump also pardoned Nicholas Slatten, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty, and Dustin Heard. Slatten and Slough are Army veterans and Liberty and Heard are Marine veterans. All four men went on to work as security contractors in Iraq and were charged in 2007 for the deaths of Iraqi civilians during a security operation. Charges against the four men were initially dismissed, but they were later tried and convicted on charges ranging from first degree murder to manslaughter. More than ten years after their conviction, the White House said prosecutors disclosed that an Iraqi investigator they heavily relied on to determine the victims of the incident weren’t indeed Iraqi insurgents may have himself had ties to an insurgent group.

Trump also fully pardoned Duncan Hunter, another Marine veteran turned Republican congressman for California. Hunter pled guilty in 2019 to one count of misusing campaign funds. The White House said the campaign finance charge was one that could have been handled as a civil case via the Federal Election Commission, according to former FEC Commissioner Bradley Smith. Hunter was instead sentenced to 11 months imprisonment, set to begin in January.

Another former New York Republican congressman Chris Collins also received a full pardon from Trump. Collins pled guilty to conspiring to commit securities fraud and making false statements to the FBI in 2019 and is currently serving his 26-month sentence.

Two former U.S. Border agencts, Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean also received pardons from Trump after being sentenced to more than 11 years in prison after Ramos shot an illegal immigrant trafficking drugs across the U.S.-Mexico border. Ramos and Compean believed the illegal immigrant had been armed and after Ramos fired at the suspect, the suspect fled back across the border. President George W. Bush previously commuted the sentences, with bipartisan support, but Trump’s action now fully pardons the two former border patrol agents.

Trump also granted full pardons to Alfonso Costa, Alfred Lee Crum, Weldon Angelos, Philip Lyman and Otis Gordon.

Costa, a dentist, pled guilty to a count of health care fraud related to false billing and served two years probation and paid about $300,000 in fines and restitution. 

Crum pled to helping his wife’s uncle illegally distill moonshine in Oklahoma in 1952. He served three years probation and paid a $250 fine.

Angelos, was sentenced in 2002 to 55 years’ imprisonment for selling marijuana and carrying a handgun in the course of dealing. His pardon was supported by Sen Mike Lee (R-UT) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

Lyman, a county commissioner in Utah, was arrested and sentenced to 10 days in prison and nearly $96,000 in restitution after he protested Bureau of Land Management’s closure of Utah’s Recapture Canyon to ATV riders.

Gordon was convicted on charges of possession of drugs, with intent to distribute.

Trump also commuted the remaining sentences for Philip Esformes, Crystal Munoz, Tynice Nichole Hall, Judith Negron and Steve Stockman.