President Trump on Tuesday pardoned 15 people, including Republican allies, a 2016 campaign official ensnared in the Russia probe, and former government contractors convicted in a massacre in Iraq. The pardons included former Republican Reps. Duncan Hunter and Chris Collins, the AP reports. Collins, the first member of Congress to endorse Trump to be president, was sentenced to two years and two months in federal prison after admitting he helped his son and others dodge $800,000 in stock market losses when he learned that a drug trial by a small pharmaceutical company had failed. Hunter was sentenced to 11 months in prison after pleading guilty to stealing campaign funds and spending the money on everything from outings with friends to his daughter’s birthday party. He was due to start serving the sentence next month.
Trump also pardoned former Rep. Steve Stockman, who started serving a 10-year sentence for crimes including fraud and money laundering in 2018, reports the New York Times. Trump also announced pardons for George Papadopoulos, his 2016 campaign adviser whose conversation unwittingly helped trigger the Russia investigation, and attorney Alex van der Zwaan, the first person convicted in the Mueller probe. In the group announced Tuesday night were four former government contractors convicted in a 2007 massacre in Baghdad that left more a dozen Iraqi civilians dead and caused an international uproar over the use of private security guards in a war zone. Supporters of the former Blackwater contractors had lobbied for pardons, arguing that the men had been excessively punished. (Read more presidential pardon stories.)