What do war criminals, Trump allies, embezzlers and other white-collar criminals have in common? Y’all’s almost-former president is spending his last days in office freeing them from prison.
On Tuesday, Donald Trump pardoned or granted clemency to 20 prisoners and former prisoners, including three Republican congressmen, two people convicted of crimes during the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential race and security contractors who shot and killed more than a dozen unarmed Iraqi civilians during the Iraq war. So as much as I would love to make the “you get a pardon, you get a pardon, EVERYBODY GETS A PARDON” joke, I’m just pretty sure Oprah Winfrey never gave free cars to people who committed acts overseas that would get them branded high-profile terrorists if they were foreign soldiers murdering U.S. citizens.
From the Washington Post:
The pre-Christmas pardons and commutations came as the president has been exploring how to reward friends and allies in his waning days in the White House, with more acts of clemency expected to come.
Trump has told advisers he wants to be liberal with pardons and plans to sign more before leaving office on Jan. 20, according to people familiar with his views. The White House has been flooded with requests from dozens of members of Congress, one senior administration official said, as well as lawyers, lobbyists, allies and other supporters of the president.
The first batch released Tuesday night shows how the president is using the power of his office to undo the work of the Russia probe that shadowed much of his term, undercut major cases that took on political corruption and wave away the crimes of Americans convicted of participating in a massacre during the Iraq War.
So let’s take a look at some of the people Trump sang, “I’m dreaming of a white-collar criminal Christmas” to:
George Papadopoulos is a former foreign policy adviser to Trump’s 2016 campaign who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI during its probe into Russian election interference. Papadopoulos served his 14-day prison sentence for lying to the FBI about his correspondence with a London-based professor who claimed Russia had thousands of emails worth of “dirt” on Trump’s then-Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton. He sought a pardon to expunge his record in order to back his whiney-ass claims that he was unfairly targeted by special counsel Robert S. Mueller and other U.S. officials, the Post reports.
Dutch attorney Alex van der Zwaan also got a Trump buddy-pass after he pleaded guilty to lying to Mueller’s team during the Russian probe.
Former Congressman Duncan D. Hunter (R-Calif.) pleaded guilty to using thousands of dollars in campaign funds to pay for family vacations and shit; former Congressman Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) pleaded guilty to being involved in an insider-trading scheme and lying to the FBI, and Congressman Steve Stockman (R-Texas) served two years out of a 10-year sentence after being convicted in 2018 of conspiring to take hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations that were meant for charity and voter education. All three of these men got a Trump pardon for Christmas because the man who’s been shouting about fraud since he lost reelection only actually cares about fraud when it’s...well...imaginary.
“Today’s pardon helps correct the wrong that Mueller’s team inflicted on so many people,” the White House said in a statement Tuesday, the Post reports.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) had a different take.
“If you lie to cover up for the president, you get a pardon,” Schiff said. “If you are a corrupt politician who endorsed Trump, you get a pardon. If you murder civilians while at war, you get a pardon.”
The most egregious pardons he gave out were the ones granted to four Blackwater Worldwide security contractors—Nicholas Slatten, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard—who were involved in a 2007 shooting that killed 14 civilians—including 9-year-old Ali Kinani—and injured 17 more.
Other pardons included border patrol agents who shot a suspected smuggler who fled their custody and a bunch of other Republicans who are just lucky Trump is only tough on crime when it comes to criminals he hasn’t likely shared a golf cart with.
According to the Post, Trump told his advisers that he isn’t done and he plans to hand out more get-out-of-jail-free cards before leaving office. (That’s assuming he’s done acting like a grown-ass toddler crying about voter fraud and refusing to admit he’s no longer president.)
There are approximately 14,000 prisoners who have petitioned for pardons and commutations, but because Trump typically didn’t even bother consulting with the Justice Department’s pardon attorney for recommendations and mostly just freed the homies, only seven of the 20 people he pardoned Tuesday actually had active petitions listed in Justice Department records.
So while it may not be the greatest time to be an average-Joe Trump supporter, it’s apparently a great time to be the type of criminal that Trump favors.