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Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

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.

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."

Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.

Go deeper

Dec 17, 2018 - World

Russia is winning its war of disinformation

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

U.S. intelligence says Russia sought to disrupt the 2016 and 2018 elections and sow discord. Regardless of what Robert Mueller does, Russia did it — and is still at it.

The big picture: Multiple high-stakes, aggressive federal investigations were spawned by an initial FBI probe of Russian government efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election. And fallout from Russian meddling, including Democratic talk of impeaching President Trump, is likely to remain a dominant political issue as Democrats take over the House 17 days from now.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden readies massive shifts in policy for his first days in office.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.
  6. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.
Dave Lawler, author of World
3 hours ago - World

Alexey Navalny detained after landing back in Moscow

Navalny and his wife shortly before he was detained. Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny was detained upon his return to Moscow on Sunday, which came five months after he was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok. He returned despite being warned that he would be arrested.

The latest: Navalny was stopped at a customs checkpoint and led away alone by officers. He appeared to hug his wife goodbye, and his spokesman reports that his lawyer was not allowed to accompany him.