Trump pardons 2 Russia probe defendants, multiple former GOP lawmakers, and Blackwater guards convicted in connection to Iraqi massacre

  • President Donald Trump issued a wave of pardons and commutations to 20 people on Tuesday.
  • Included on the list were two associates who were ensnared in the FBI's Russia investigation, as well as multiple former Republican congressmen who were convicted of or pleaded guilty to several felonies.
  • Also included were four Blackwater guards who were implicated in the 2007 massacre of Iraqi civilians, and border patrol agents accused of shooting an unarmed undocumented immigrant and covering it up.
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President Donald Trump announced a series of pardons and commutations to multiple close associates ensnared in the Russia probe, three former Republican congressmen who pleaded guilty to or were convicted of felonies, and four former Blackwater guards implicated in the 2007 massacre of Iraqi civilians.

Also included on Trump's list of pardons were two former Border Patrol agents who were convicted in connection to the shooting of an unarmed undocumented immigrant. 

Two of the most high profile names on Trump's pardon list published Tuesday were George Papadopoulos and Alex van Der Zwaan. 

Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy advisor to Trump's 2016 campaign, pleaded guilty to one count of lying to the FBI as part of the Mueller investigation. But he later backtracked on the admission, saying in his book that he "misspoke" to the FBI and that the lie he pleaded guilty to was "unintentional." 

He also wrote that he felt "forced" into pleading guilty to avoid being charged with violating foreign lobbying laws. The former aide also told Reuters last year that he had formally applied for a pardon from Trump.

Van Der Zwaan, a Dutch lawyer who worked with former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates, was charged with "willfully and knowingly" making "false, fictitious, and fraudulent statements and representations" to federal investigators about his work in 2012 for the law firm Skadden, Arps, Meagher & Flom.

He was also accused of misleading federal investigators about his communications with Gates, who is a longtime associate of Manafort.

In particular, van der Zwaan is said to have lied to investigators about why he did not provide the special counsel Robert Mueller's office with a September 2016 email between him and another person referred to as "Person A" in the February charging document.

Papadopoulos and van der Zwaan are one of several Trump associates ensnared in the Russia probe whom the president has granted executive clemency to in recent months.

In July, he commuted the sentence of the longtime Republican strategist Roger Stone, who was convicted last year of seven felony counts of making false statements, obstruction, and witness tampering. Last month, Trump also pardoned former national security advisor Michael Flynn, who in December 2017 pleaded guilty to one count of lying to the FBI.

Politico reported earlier this month that Trump is considering pardoning as many as 20 associates in the waning days of his presidency, including his three eldest children, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, and his personal defense lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

Axios reported that the president is offering pardons "like Christmas gifts" and has even offered them to people who never asked for and did not want them.

Steve Stockman, Duncan Hunter, and Chris Collins were the three Republican former members of Congress pardoned. Trump also pardoned four Blackwater military contractors convicted of committing a massacre in Iraq, killing 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians in Baghdad in 2007.

Also on the list were two Border Patrol agents convicted of shooting an unarmed, undocumented immigrant in 2006 and engaging in a cover-up. 

This story is developing. Check back for updates.

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