22 December 2020

4 Blackwater Mercenaries, 3 Corrupt Congressmen, 2 Mueller Felons

And a partridge in a pear tree.

Donald Trump just issued a slew of Christmas pardons, and while I am not surprised at his pardoning potential witnesses agaisnt him, I am a bit disappointed that he also found time to pardon Blackwater's war criminal mercenaries and the corrupt former Congressmen:

In an audacious pre-Christmas round of pardons, President Trump granted clemency on Tuesday to two people convicted in the special counsel’s Russia inquiry, four Blackwater guards convicted in connection with the killing of Iraqi civilians and three corrupt former Republican members of Congress.

It was a remarkable assertion of pardon power by a president who has disputed his loss in the election and might be only the start of more to come in the final weeks before he leaves office on Jan. 20.


Among those pardoned was George Papadopoulos, who was a foreign policy adviser to Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign and who pleaded guilty in 2017 to making false statements to federal officials as part of the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.

Also pardoned was Alex van der Zwaan, a lawyer who pleaded guilty to the same charge in 2018 in connection to the special counsel’s inquiry. Both men served short prison sentences.


Mr. Trump recently pardoned his former national security adviser, Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, who pleaded guilty twice to charges including lying to the F.B.I. in connection with the inquiry into Russian involvement in the election. The president in July commuted the sentence of Roger J. Stone Jr., his longtime adviser who was convicted on a series of charges related to the investigation. Both men have maintained their innocence.

Mr. Trump’s pardon list also included four former U.S. service members who were convicted on charges related to the killing of Iraqi civilians while working as contractors in 2007.

One of them, Nicholas Slatten, had been sentenced to life in prison after the Justice Department had gone to great lengths to prosecute him. Mr. Slatten had been a contractor for the private company Blackwater and was sentenced for his role in the killing of 17 Iraqi civilians in Nisour Square in Baghdad — a massacre that left one of the most lasting stains of the war on the United States. Among those dead were 10 men, two women and two boys, who were 8 and 11.

The three former members of Congress pardoned by Mr. Trump were Duncan D. Hunter of California, Chris Collins of New York and Steve Stockman of Texas.


A tabulation by the Harvard Law School professor Jack Goldsmith found that of the 45 pardons or commutations that Mr. Trump had granted up until Tuesday, 88 percent aided someone with a personal tie to the president or furthered his political aims.

And by nullifying the legal consequences of convictions in the Russia inquiry, Mr. Trump escalated a long campaign, aided by his departing attorney general, William P. Barr, to effectively undo the investigation by Mr. Mueller, discredit the resulting prosecutions and punish those who instigated it in the first place.

I expect to see double digit numbers of pardons on a weekly pardons moving forward.


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