Trump pardons 15, including Republican allies

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump pardoned 15 people Tuesday, including Republican allies, a 2016 campaign official involved in the Russia investigation, and former government corporations convicted of a 2007 massacre in Baghdad.
Trump also converted the sentences of five people. While it is not uncommon for presidents to grant mercy on the way to the door, Trump has made it clear that he has no qualms about interfering with the cases of friends and allies he believes have been treated unfairly. Despite speculation, however, members of Trump's own family, his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and the president himself were not on the list.
The pardons included former Republicans Duncan Hunter from California and Chris Collins from New York. Trump changed the ruling of former Texas MP Steve Stockman.
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Collins, the first member of Congress to endorse Trump as president, was sentenced to two years and two months in prison after admitting that he helped his son and others avoid $ 800,000 stock market losses than him learned that a drug trial was being conducted by a small drug 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.
Trump also announced pardons for allies implicated in the Russia investigation. One of these was for George Papadopoulos, his 2016 campaign advisor, whose conversation inadvertently helped spark the Russia investigation that shadowed Trump's presidency for nearly two years. He also pardoned Alex van der Zwaan, a Dutch attorney who was sentenced to 30 days in prison for lying to investigators during Robert Mueller's investigation.
Van der Zwaan and Papadopoulos are Russia's third and fourth defendants to be pardoned. In pardoning her, Trump again targeted Müller's investigation and urged a wider effort to reverse the results of the investigation, which brought criminal charges against half a dozen employees.
Last month, Trump pardoned former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty twice for lying to the FBI, and reversed the judgment of another employee, Roger Stone, months earlier, days before he was due to report to prison.
In the group announced on Tuesday evening, four former government companies were convicted of a 2007 massacre in Baghdad that killed more than a dozen Iraqi civilians and sparked international riot over the use of private security forces in a war zone.
The supporters of Nicholas Slatten, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard, the former Blackwater Worldwide contractors, had advocated pardons, arguing that the men were overly punished in an investigation and prosecution they said were afflicted with problems and withheld exculpatory evidence. All four were serving long sentences.
The pardons reflected Trump's apparent willingness to cast doubt on American soldiers and contractors when it comes to acts of violence against civilians in war zones. In November of last year, for example, he pardoned a former US Army command who was due to stand trial the next year for suspected Afghan bomb-maker and a former army lieutenant who had been convicted of murder for ordering his men to three Shoot Afghans.
"Paul Slough and his colleagues didn't deserve a minute in jail," said Brian Heberlig, attorney for one of the four pardoned Blackwater defendants. "I am overwhelmed with emotion with this fantastic news."
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