President Donald Trump has granted full pardons to as many as 15 people, including a few of his close aides and some of the early supporters of his presidential campaign, even as he is entering the final few weeks of his presidency.
The most prominent figure to get the pardon on Friday was George Papadopoulos, a former campaign staff who pleaded guilty in a case related to the Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Other prominent people to get the full presidential pardon include Alex van der Zwaan and former Congressmen Chris Collins and Duncan Hunter.
Trump also commuted the prison term of former Republican Representative Steve Stockman, who was convicted in two dozen felonies in Texas. The White House said Stockman had underlying health conditions and was a greater risk of contracting coronavirus in prison.
Conviction was part of 'Witch Hunt'
Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents about his contacts with people allegedly had ties with Russian officials. "The defendant's crime was serious and caused damage to the government's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election," the court had said. The former campaign aide had served 12 days in federal prison. According to the pardon order, Papadopoulos was charged with "a process-related crime". "Today's pardon helps correct the wrong that Mueller's team inflicted on so many people," the White House said.
Another prominent person to be pardoned was Alex van der Zwaan, who was sentenced to 30 days in prison for lying to Mueller investigation about his contacts with Trump campaign officials. Van der Zwaan is the Dutch son-in-law of Russian billionaire German Khan.
Collins, a former Rep. from New York, was the first sitting member of Congress to endorse Trump's presidential campaign in 2016. In 2019, he pleaded guilty to the charges of conspiring to commit securities fraud and making false statements to the FBI. He is currently serving his 26-month sentence.
Another politician to get the full pardon was Duncan Hunter, a former Republican Representative from California. He had pleaded guilty to conspiring to convert campaign funds to personal use.
Other offenders who got the pardon include: Alfonso Costa, a dentist who pleaded guilty to health care fraud, Alfred Lee Crum, who pleaded guilty to illegally distilling moonshine; Weldon Angelos, who was sentenced to 55 years in prison for selling marijuana, Philip Lyman, who was sentenced to 10 days in jail related to his protest of ATV restrictions on federal land and Otis Gordon, another drug offender.