President Trump on Tuesday granted clemency to 20 convicted felons — including pardons for two men who lied to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators, the White House said.
The pre-Christmas blitz of forgiveness also included pardons for two crooked former members of Congress and a commuted sentence for a third.
Pardons also went to four military contractors convicted in the massacre of 17 Iraqi civilians in 2007 and two former Border Patrol agents who covered up the shooting of an unarmed illegal immigrant.
Several people convicted of non-violent drug crimes, including some serving lengthy sentences, received pardons or commutations.
In all, Trump handed out 15 pardons and five commutations, the White House said.
The Mueller-related pardons of George Papadopoulos, a 2016 Trump campaign aide, and Alex van der Zwaan, a Dutch lawyer, brought to four the number of people the president has granted clemency in connection with the Russia probe, which he repeatedly labeled a political “witch hunt.”
Last month, Trump pardoned former national security adviser Michael Flynn for lying to the FBI and he earlier commuted the sentence of former 2016 campaign adviser Roger Stone, just days before the start of his prison sentence.
Former US Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY), a key Trump ally who pleaded guilty in an inside-trading scheme, and former US Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), who pleaded guilty to stealing campaign funds, both received full pardons.
In both cases, Trump responded to requests from “many” members of Congress, the White House said.
Trump also commuted the sentence of former US Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas), who was convicted of misusing charitable funds and contracted COVID-19 in prison.
Another pol, Utah state Rep. Phil Lyman, was pardoned for leading an illegal ATV protest through restricted native lands.
US military veterans Nicholas Slatten, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard were pardoned for convictions ranging from first-degree murder to voluntary manslaughter in what the White House called the “unfortunate deaths and injuries of Iraqi civilians” during a clash outside Baghdad’s “Green Zone.”
In addition to saying their pardons were “broadly supported by the public,” the White House noted a recent disclosure by prosecutors “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.”
Former Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean received pardons for their convictions in the 2005 shooting of a suspected drug trafficker who resisted arrest and fled back into Mexico.
Their prison sentences, of 11 and 12 years, respectively, were previously commuted by then-President George W. Bush following Senate Judiciary Committee hearings over the punishment they received.
Three women — Crystal Munoz, Tynice Nichole Hall and Judith Negron — received commutations in part due to the advocacy of Alice Johnson, whose drug-related sentence was previously commuted by Trump at the urging of Kim Kardashian West.
Johnson also helped persuade Trump to pardon Weldon Angelos, a music producer and former Snoop Dogg associate, who was released from prison in 2016 after serving 13 years of a 55-year sentence for dealing pot.
Conservatives including Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) rallied to Angelos’s cause while he was in prison because his sentence was greatly increased by a five-year firearms enhancement for each time he sold weed.
Alfred Lee Crum, 89, received a pardon for pleading guilty in 1952 — when he was 19 — to helping his wife’s uncle run an illegal moonshine still in Oklahoma.
After serving three years of probation and paying a $250 fine, Crum “has maintained a clean record and a strong marriage for nearly 70 years, attended the same church for 60 years, raised four children, and regularly participated in charity fundraising events,” the White House said.
Trump also granted pardons to Alfonso Costa, a Pittsburgh dentist convicted of health care fraud, and Otis Gordon, who became a pastor at Life Changer’s International Ministries in South Carolina following his conviction for possessing four kilos of cocaine with intent to distribute.
In 2015, Gordon led a prayer service in the US Capitol following the 2015 mass shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., where a white supremacist killed nine black worshippers after joining them for Bible study.
Philip Esformes, a Florida nursing home tycoon who was sentenced last year to 20 years in prison for a $1 billion Medicare fraud scheme, received a commutation that left intact orders to pay restitution and abide by the terms of post-release supervision.
The White House said that Esformes, 52, “is in declining health” and had devoted himself to “prayer and repentance” behind bars.
Additional reporting by Steven Nelson