Trump doles out first round of high-profile pardons; provokes predictable anger

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President Donald Trump finally launched his much-anticipated pardoning spree Tuesday by directly pardoning 15 people and commuting the sentences of five more.

Included on the list of recipients were victims of the Russian collusion delusion hoax and conspiracy theory, as well as people recommended to him by his political allies and Alice Johnson, the 65-year-old black woman whose story became a beacon for criminal justice reform after her life sentence was commuted in 2015.

Russian Collusion Hoax Victims

Included among the Russian collusion delusion hoax and conspiracy theory victims were George Papadopoulos and Alex van der Zwaan, both of whom were targeted and convicted by former special counsel Robert Mueller on mere process crimes.

“Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI about contacts he had with Russian agents while he was on the Trump campaign’s payroll. Van der Zwaan pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to investigators regarding questions of Russian interference,” CBS News reported.

Both Papadopoulos and his wife, Simona Mangiante, were elated by the news.

Look:

People Recommended By Political Allies

The bulk of the pardons and commutations were recommended to the president by his political allies, including Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, who’d recommended he grant a full pardon to Pittsburgh dentist Alfonso Costa.

“Dr. Costa pled guilty to one count of health care fraud related to false billing, took full responsibility for his conduct, served two years of probation, and paid nearly $300,000 in fines and restitution,” according to the White House.

“He has devoted much of his adult life to service to his community, including serving on the board of the Pittsburgh Opera, and doing significant service for children and the underprivileged.”

Mr. Trump also commuted the sentence of Steve Stockman, a 64-year-old former congressman who has been housed in federal prison since 2018 for wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering.

“Former Representatives Bob McEwen and Bob Barr, along with James Dobson and L. Brent Bozell are among the many public figures who have called for Mr. Stockman’s release from incarceration on humanitarian and compassionate grounds,” the White House notes.

The most controversial political pardons were those of four former Blackwater Worldwide contractors who’d allegedly opened fire on Iraqi citizens unprovoked while escorting a U.S. Embassy convoy in 2007. The four have claimed from day one that they’d opened fire after first being fired upon.

Their pardons provoked anger from notorious Russian collusion delusion hoaxer Adam Schiff, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee.

“In innumerable ways, Donald Trump has abused the power of his office, and now he does so again with the pardon power. Trump is doling out pardons, not on the basis of repentance, restitution or the interests of justice, but to reward his friends and political allies, to protect those who lie to cover up him, to shelter those guilty of killing civilians, and to undermine an investigation that uncovered massive wrongdoing,” he reportedly said a statement.

People Recommended by Alice Johnson

“Alice Johnson, who was pardoned by President Donald Trump in August, was instrumental in gaining similar clemency for 4 individuals announced by the White House on Tuesday,” Newsweek reported.

“Johnson supported clemency for Crystal Munoz, Tynice Nichole Hall, Weldon Angelos and Judith Negron. While Angelos received a full pardon, Trump commuted the sentences of Munoz, Hall and Negron.”

Like Johnson, who was sentenced to life in prison in 1997 for a non-violent drug offense, three of the recipients had also been involved in drugs.

“Hall … was sentenced to 18 years in prison for non-violent drug charge,” “Munoz was sentenced to approximately 20 years in prison in 2007 on charges of conspiracy to distribute marijuana” and “Angles was convicted of selling marijuana to an undercover agent,” Newsweek noted.

Negron meanwhile “had been sentenced to 35 years in prison for her part in a $200 million Medicare fraud scheme which allegedly billed Medicare for mental health sessions for patients unable to benefit from them because of their deteriorated mental condition.”

Not Included

Not included on the list were Edward Snowden and Julian Assange, though pressure for them to be included in the next round of pardons is quickly mounting.

Vivek Saxena

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