Trump Pardons Well-Connected Convicted Criminals Who Serve His Political Interests

Christmas came early for convicted criminals with personal ties to Trump and who serve his political interests. Hours before heading off to Mar-a-Lago, Trump issued a grab bag of pardons to corrupt politicians who supported him, convicted murderers who worked for a close ally of his, and those who lied to cover up for him. So much for “draining the swamp.”

Trump’s pardons have overwhelmingly gone to well-connected people he has personal ties to, and been used to further his political goals.

New York Times: “A tabulation by the Harvard Law School professor Jack Goldsmith found that of Mr. Trump’s 45 pardons or commutations before Tuesday, 88 percent went to people with personal ties to the president or to people who furthered his political aims.”

Politico: “President Donald Trump issued a raft of pre-Christmas pardons and commutations Tuesday, favoring the well-connected and those with A-list advocates, while appearing to shunt aside — at least for now — more than 14,000 people who have applied for clemency through a small Justice Department office that handles such requests.”

Trump pardoned two former Republican congressmen, convicted of federal offenses, who were among his earliest supporters. 

Washington Post: “Among those pardoned were three former Republican congressmen, each of them convicted of federal offenses during the Trump administration. Two had been early and avid supporters of Trump’s campaign.”

Trump’s decision to pardon elected officials who committed crimes flies in the face of his promise to “drain the swamp.”

Washington Post: “Trump’s decision to pardon elected officials who had admitted wrongdoing — as well as prominent business executives who had engaged in fraud and other white-collar crimes — flies in the face of his onetime campaign promise to ‘drain the swamp’ in American political and corporate life.”

The Guardian: “Pardons sink Trump further into swamp of his own shamelessness”

Trump pardoned two people who pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators to cover up for him in the Russia probe.

Washington Post: “Trump gave a full pardon to George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser to his 2016 campaign who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI during its Russia investigation.”

Washington Post: “Trump also pardoned Alex van der Zwaan, a Dutch lawyer who had worked with Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort in work related to Ukraine and pleaded guilty in 2018 to lying to Mueller’s team.”

Trump pardoned security contractors, convicted in the killing of Iraqi civilians, who worked for Blackwater, which was founded by one of his longtime supporters and allies.

Washington Post: “The four private security contractors Trump pardoned — Nicholas Slatten, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard — all worked for the now infamous Blackwater Worldwide security company, founded by Trump supporter Erik Prince. Trump has long viewed Prince as an ally, and mused about giving him more government contracts during his presidency, according to White House officials and Trump advisers.”

New York Times: “The pardons of the Blackwater contractors have direct links to two of Mr. Trump’s close allies: Erik Prince, the former head of Blackwater, and Mr. Prince’s sister Betsy DeVos, the education secretary.”