December 23rd, 2020
Trump pardons 15, including former Republicans, people convicted in Mueller probe, former Blackwater guards and more
President Trump, on Tuesday, issued pardons to 15 people.
Those pardoned, include two men convicted as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
One of them is Trump’s foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos, who had been convicted of making false statements at the time of the probe.
The other one is a lawyer and Dutch national Alex van der Zwaan, who pleaded guilty of lying to the FBI during the Mueller probe.
“Today’s pardon helps correct the wrong that Mueller’s team inflicted on so many people,” Kayleigh McEnany, Trump’s press secretary, said about Papadopoulous.Every president is constitutionally entitled to pardon whomever he wishes--no further qualifications. If discussing the ethical nature of the pardons (or the amount), Democrats would be highly hypocritical to criticize. To date, Trump has the lowest number of pardons of any president in modern history. While Trump pardoned Papadopoulous for a lie , Obama pardoned terrorist Oscar Lopez Rivera with the FALN organization, who blew people up for a living.
Trump also pardoned four former Blackwater USA guards (Nicholas Slatten, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard) convicted in the killings of 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians in Baghdad in 2000.Nicholas Slatten, who led the Blackwater massacre on unarmed Iraqi civilians, killing a total of twelve unarmed Iraquis--including two children--ages 9 and 12. Witnesses to the event, including at least two Blackwater unit members, attested that the civilians were not a threat and that the killings were cold-blooded murder. Slaten was convicted of first-degree murder twice. Those three other were convicted of manslaughter for shooting under Slatten's direction.The White House states: "Initial charges against the men were dismissed... On appeal, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that additional evidence should have been presented at Mr. Slatten’s trial. Further, prosecutors recently disclosed—more than 10 years after the incident—that the lead Iraqi investigator, who prosecutors relied heavily on to verify that there were no insurgent victims and to collect evidence, may have had ties to insurgent groups himself."
Two former Republican (Duncan Hunter and Chris Collins) congressmen, who admitted to financial-related crimes, were also pardoned.McEnany said Hunter and Collins were granted pardon following “the request of many members of Congress." Chris Collins admitted to peddling a drug after a failed trial and was convicted of insider trading. Duncan Hunter stole at least $250k in campaign funds for the personal comfort of himself and his family and was convicted of several crimes, including mail fraud and misappropriation of campaign funds. Hunter used some of the funds to fly his family's pet Rabbit around the nation.
Both pardons were at the behest of many congressmen, and even the Democrat-appointed former commissioner of the Federal Election Commission has supported this decision.
Philip Esformes, who is the owner of South Florida health-care facility, also got a pardon.Esformes was sentenced to 20 years in prison over a health care fraud.
Trump also pardoned two former U.S. Border Patrol agents (Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean)Border Patrol agents (Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean).
Others in the list are Alfred Lee Crum (89), who in 1952 pleaded guilty of helping his wife’s uncle illegally distill moonshine; and two women convicted of drug crimes.All persons convicted of non-violent drug offenses should be released from prison. I am relieved to see that Trump pardoned a few of them, but hundreds or hundreds of thousands would have been preferable.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, criticized the pardons, saying Trump is “doling out pardons, not on the basis of repentance, restitution or the interests of justice, but to reward his friends and political allies."Clearly, in the pardon mentioned directly above and others, this is not the case. For some who are connected to the President, a miscarriage of justice motivated the pardons which certainly falls under Congressman Schiff's third category. Did he criticize President Clinton's scandalous pardons of fugitives like Marc Rich whose wife substantially donated to the Clintons prior to the pardon, causing even President Carter to deem it "disgraceful?"In 1788, George Mason stood up in Congress to say that the president “ought not to have the power of pardoning, because he may frequently pardon crimes which were advised by himself... If he has the power of granting pardons before indictment, or conviction, may he not stop inquiry and prevent detection?" Though no president has established a monarchy, Mason's words ring true to this day.It is arguably the case that presidents have used their powers to pardon crimes of their direction, or crimes generally following from their particular crimes. At the very least, presidents past and present used pardons to get friends, family, and party loyalists off the hook for crimes the law convicted of them.