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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

Trump ally Matt Schlapp got $750k in unsuccessful pardon push

Matt Schlapp. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The lobbying firm run by Trump ally Matt Schlapp brought in $750,000 in the final two weeks of 2020 from a former top Trump fundraiser and convicted fraudster who retained Schlapp to lobby — unsuccessfully — for a presidential pardon.

Why it matters: The substantial sum that the former fundraiser, Georgia's Parker "Pete" Petit, paid to Schlapp's Cove Strategies shows how valuable connections to Donald Trump were in his final days in office for wealthy felons seeking clemency from the outgoing president.

Off the Rails

Descent into madness

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Trump was sitting in the Oval Office one day in late November when a call came in from lawyer Sidney Powell. "Ugh, Sidney," he told the staff in the room before he picked up. "She's getting a little crazy, isn't she? She's really gotta tone it down. No one believes this stuff. It's just too much."

Ina Fried, author of Login
1 hour ago - Technology

Microsoft to buy Activision Blizzard

Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Microsoft announced Tuesday it plans to acquire video game giant Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion in cash.

Why it matters: The move comes as Activision Blizzard has faced a wave of accusations of workplace harassment.