Trump's pardon spree begins
President Trump began his expected pardon spree on Tuesday, issuing 20 pardons and commutations.
Driving the news: Convicted former GOP Reps. Duncan Hunter, Chris Collins — the first two congressmen to endorse Trump in the 2016 election — and Russia probe figures George Papadopoulos and Alex van der Zwaan were among the wave of 15 pardons and five commutations.
- Hunter, who pleaded guilty in 2019 to misusing campaign finance funds, was set to begin serving his 11-month sentence next month, per the New York Times.
- Collins has been serving a 26-month sentence for making false statements to the FBI and conspiracy to commit securities fraud.
- Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign adviser, pleaded guilty in 2017 to making false statements to the FBI about Russian contacts.
- Van der Zwaan pleaded guilty in February 2018 to lying to FBI agents about his communications with former deputy Trump campaign manager Rick Gates and an unidentified individual who is believed to have ties to Russian intelligence.
Trump also granted clemency to:
- Former GOP Rep. Steve Stockman, who has been serving a 10-year sentence for misusing charitable funds. His sentence was commuted.
- Four military contractors involved in the 2007 killings of more than dozen Iraqi civilians in Baghdad. Nicholas Slatten, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard were all serving long prison sentences. They received pardons.
Between the lines: These won't necessarily be Trump's last pardons or commutations before he leaves office. As Axios' Jonathan Swan reported earlier this month, the president has been discussing handing out pardons "like Christmas gifts."
- Last month, Trump pardoned his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty in the Mueller investigation to lying to FBI agents about his conversations with a former Russian ambassador.
Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.