President Trump went on pardon tear Tuesday night as his presidency wanes, with the White House announcing grants of clemency for key figures in the 2016 Russia investigation and for congressional allies of Trump who were prosecuted during his administration.
Trump granted a full pardon to his former 2016 campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, who kickstarted the Russian investigation when he told a foreign diplomat about Russia’s efforts to dig up dirt on Hillary Clinton. Papadopoulos pleaded guilty in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation for making false statements to the FBI. The former Skadden Arps lawyer Alexander van der Zwaan, who likewise pleaded guilty in Mueller’s probe, was granted a full pardon for lying to officials investigating his involvement in a 2012 a report that white-washed the prosecution of a Ukrainian official.
Former Reps. Chris Collins (R-NY) and Duncan Hunter (R-CA) were also granted full pardons. The two Republicans were the first members of the House to endorse Trump in the 2016 campaign. Collins pleaded guilty for crimes related to an insider trading scandal, and is currently serving a 26-month prison sentence. Hunter, who was scheduled to go to prison next month, pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations.
Another former House Republican, Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX), was also pardoned by Trump. Stockman had been convicted in 2018 for a slew of financial crimes, also involving the misuse of campaign funds.
Ten other individuals received pardons, the White House announced Tuesday, and five more received partial or full commutations of their sentences.
Among those pardoned were several Blackwater contractors who were prosecuted for fatally shooting unarmed Iraqi civilians in a 2007 episode of the Iraq War.
Read the full White House announcement of the pardons below:
Statement from the Press Secretary Regarding Executive Grants of Clemency
Today, President Donald J. Trump granted Full Pardons to 15 individuals and commuted part or all of the sentences of an additional 5 individuals.
Alfonso Costa — President Trump granted a full pardon to Alfonso Costa, a dentist from Pittsburgh. Dr. Costa’s request for clemency was supported by Dr. Ben Carson and Jerome Bettis, as well as by numerous business associates, patients, and community leaders from Pittsburgh. 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. 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.
Alfred Lee Crum — President Trump granted Alfred Lee Crum a full pardon. Mr. Crum, who is now 89, pled guilty in 1952—when he was 19 years old—to helping his wife’s uncle illegally distill moonshine in Oklahoma. Mr. Crum served three years of probation, and paid a $250 fine. Mr. 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. Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Oklahoma Brian Kuester supported Mr. Crum’s request for a pardon.
Crystal Munoz — Today, President Trump commuted Crystal Munoz’s remaining term of supervised release, having previously commuted her sentence of incarceration after she had served 12 years in prison. Alice Johnson, the Texas A&M Criminal Defense Clinic, and the Clemency for All Non-Violent Drug Offenders Foundation are among the many who supported clemency for Ms. Munoz. Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi supports the President’s further act of clemency today. Ms. Munoz was convicted of conspiracy to distribute marijuana based on her role in a marijuana smuggling ring. During her time in prison, she mentored people working to better their lives, volunteered with a hospice program, and demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to rehabilitation.
Tynice Nichole Hall — President Trump has commuted the remainder of Tynice Nichole Hall’s term of supervised release. He previously commuted her term of incarceration after she had served nearly 14 years of an 18-year sentence for allowing her apartment to be used to distribute drugs. Alice Johnson, The Clemency for All Non-Violent Drug Offenders Foundation, and The Ladies of Hope Ministries are among the many who supported clemency for Ms. Hall. Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi supports the President’s further act of clemency today. While in prison, Ms. Hall completed a number of job-training programs and apprenticeships, as well as coursework towards a college degree. In addition, Ms. Hall taught prison educational programs to other inmates. She has accepted responsibility for her past behavior and has worked hard to rehabilitate herself.
Judith Negron — President Trump has today commuted the remainder of Judith Negron’s term of supervised release. He previously commuted her term of incarceration after she had served 8 years of her sentence. Alice Johnson, the Clemency for All Non-Violent Drug Offenders Foundation, Change.org, and the Warden at Aliceville Federal Correctional Institution have all supported clemency for Ms. Negron. Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi supports the President’s further act of clemency today. Ms. Negron is a wife and mother who was sentenced to 35 years for her role as a minority-owner of a healthcare company engaged in a scheme to defraud the Federal Government. During her incarceration, Ms. Negron dedicated her time to improving her life as well as the lives of her fellow inmates. She completed hundreds of hours of educational programs, served as a tutor, and mentored other inmates. Her acts of selflessness won her the praise of her prison warden.
Steve Stockman — Today, President Trump commuted the remaining prison sentence of Steve Stockman. 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. Mr. Stockman is 64 and has underlying pre-existing health conditions that place his health at greater risk during the COVID epidemic, and he has already contracted COVID while in prison. Mr. Stockman, who was twice a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Texas’s 9th congressional district from 1995 to 1997 and Texas’s 36th congressional district from 2013 to 2015, was convicted in 2018 of misuse of charitable funds. Mr. Stockman has served more than two years of his ten-year sentence and will remain subject to a period of supervised release and an order requiring that he pay more than $1,000,000 in restitution.
Duncan Hunter – At the request of many Members of Congress, President Trump granted a full pardon to Duncan Hunter. His pardon is also supported by former Commissioner of the Federal Election Commission Bradley Smith.
Mr. Hunter has dedicated much of his adult life to public service. Mr. Hunter represented California’s 50th Congressional District from 2013 to 2020. Prior to his time in Congress, Mr. Hunter was an officer in the United States Marine Corps. Inspired to enlist after the September 11, 2001 attacks, Mr. Hunter saw combat in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
In 2019, Mr. Hunter pled guilty to one count of misusing campaign funds, an offense that could have been handled as a civil case via the Federal Election Commission, according to former FEC Commissioner Bradley Smith. He was sentenced to 11 months’ imprisonment set to begin in January 2021.
Chris Collins – Today, President Trump granted a full pardon to Chris Collins, at the request of many Members of Congress.
Mr. Collins served in Congress for nearly seven years, representing the people of Western New York from 2013 to 2019. Mr. Collins spent his early career as a successful businessman and entrepreneur, before devoting his life to public service. In 2007, Mr. Collins was elected County Executive for Erie County, New York, a position he held for one four-year term, and in 2012 the people of New York’s 27th congressional district elected Mr. Collins to the U.S. House of Representatives. He was subsequently re-elected to this seat three times. During his tenure in Congress, Mr. Collins was known for his particular focus on the wellbeing of small businesses, agriculture, and sciences.
In 2019, Mr. Collins pled guilty to the charges of conspiring to commit securities fraud and making false statements to the FBI. Mr. Collins is currently serving his 26-month sentence.
Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean – Today, President Trump granted full pardons to Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean. These former Border Patrol Agents have been supported by one hundred members of Congress, including Rep. Louie Gohmert, Rep. Steve King, Rep. Ted Poe, Rep. Paul Gosar, Rep. Brian Babin, as well as the U.S. Border Control Foundation and the Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund.
Mr. Ramos participates in numerous community activities and charities, and Mr. Compean is active in his local church.
Both men served as Border Patrol Agents and put themselves in harm’s way to help secure our southern border with Mexico. On one such occasion in 2005, they stopped an illegal alien trafficking 700 pounds of marijuana. When the illegal alien—who was thought to be armed—resisted arrest, Mr. Ramos shot the suspect, who fled back across the border. For this, Mr. Ramos and Mr. Compean were charged and convicted of assault, using a firearm during a crime of violence, and deprivation of civil rights. After they were sentenced to 11 and 12 years imprisonment, respectively, their case gained widespread attention.
One hundred members of Congress, as well as the organizations above, supported Mr. Ramos’ and Mr. Compean’s release from prison. The Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on the excessive sentence imposed on the former agents. And President George W. Bush ultimately commuted these sentences with strong bipartisan support.
George Papadopoulos – Today, President Trump granted a full pardon to George Papadopoulos. Mr. Papadopoulos was charged with a process-related crime, one count of making false statements, in connection with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Notably, Mueller stated in his report that he found no evidence of collusion in connection with Russia’s attempts to interfere in the election. Nonetheless, the Special Counsel’s team still charged Mr. Papadopoulos with this process-related crime.
At the time that Mr. Papadopoulos allegedly made the false statements, he was not represented by counsel, and, after he was arrested, Mr. Papadopoulos gave additional information on his prior statements to the Special Counsel. Today’s pardon helps correct the wrong that Mueller’s team inflicted on so many people.
Alex van der Zwaan – Today, President Trump granted a full pardon to Alex van der Zwaan. His pardon is supported by former Rep. Trey Gowdy.
Mr. van der Zwaan was charged with a process-related crime, one count of making false statements, in connection with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. None of his underlying conduct was alleged to have been unlawful, nor did prosecutors note any prior criminal history. Mr. van der Zwaan is a Dutch national who voluntarily returned to the United States to correct his statements and surrendered his passport upon entry.
Nicholas Slatten, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty, and Dustin Heard – Today, President Trump granted full pardons to Nicholas Slatten, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty, and Dustin Heard. The pardon of these four veterans is broadly supported by the public, including Pete Hegseth, and elected officials such as Rep. Louie Gohmert, Rep. Paul Gosar, Rep. Ralph Norman, Rep. Bill Flores, Rep. Brian Babin, Rep. Michael Burgess, Rep. Daniel Webster, Rep. Steve King, and Rep. Ted Yoho.
Mr. Slatten, Mr. Slough, Mr. Liberty, and Mr. Heard have a long history of service to the Nation. Mr. Slatten was inspired to serve his country after the attacks of September 11, 2001, and served two tours in Iraq with the 82nd Airborne Division. Mr. Slough served in the United States Army and deployed to Iraq with his National Guard unit. Mr. Liberty served in the United States Marine Corps and protected United States Embassies abroad. Mr. Heard served in the United States Marine Corps during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
These veterans were working in Iraq in 2007 as security contractors responsible for securing the safety of United States personnel. When the convoy attempted to establish a blockade outside the “Green Zone,” the situation turned violent, which resulted in the unfortunate deaths and injuries of Iraqi civilians. Initial charges against the men were dismissed, but they were eventually tried and convicted on charges ranging from first degree murder to voluntary manslaughter. On appeal, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that additional evidence should have been presented at Mr. Slatten’s trial. Further, prosecutors recently disclosed—more than 10 years after the incident—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.
Weldon Angelos – Today, President Trump granted a full pardon to Weldon Angelos. Mr. Angelos’ pardon is supported by Senator Mike Lee, Senator Rand Paul, Alice Johnson, former U.S. Attorney Brett Tolman, and others.
Mr. Angelos is an active criminal justice reform advocate and champion of giving second chances. Because of mandatory minimums, Mr. Angelos was sentenced in 2002 to 55 years’ imprisonment for selling marijuana and carrying a handgun in the course of dealing. The presiding judge called this excessive sentence “unjust and cruel and even irrational.”
Mr. Angelos was eventually released by judicial order after serving 13 years in prison, and committed to changing the world for the better through criminal justice reform advocacy. His story has been cited as an inspiration for sentencing reform, including the First Step Act, and he participated in a Prison Reform Summit at the White House in 2018. In his own words, Mr. Angelos wants “to become whole again and put the bad choices in the past and continue changing the world for the better.”
Philip Lyman – Today, President Trump granted a full pardon to Philip Lyman. Mr. Lyman’s pardon is supported by Senator Mike Lee, Former Rep. Jason Chaffetz, and other notable members of the Utah community.
Mr. Lyman is known to be a man of integrity and character who was serving as a county commissioner in Utah when he was subjected to selective prosecution for protesting the Bureau of Land Management’s closure of the Recapture Canyon to ATV riders. He had no other criminal history, but he was arrested and sentenced to 10 days in prison and nearly $96,000 in restitution.
Otis Gordon – Today, President Trump granted a full pardon to Otis Gordon. Mr. Gordon’s pardon is supported by Senator Tim Scott.
Mr. Gordon has become a Pastor at Life Changer’s International Ministries since his conviction for possession with intent to distribute. In 2015, in the wake of the shooting at a Bible study in Charleston, South Carolina, Mr. Gordon led a prayer session at the United States Capitol. Mr. Gordon mentors at-risk youths in his community. Senator Tim Scott describes Mr. Gordon as “a model citizen” since his release and “focused on helping young men avoid the same traps he once fell in.”
Philip Esformes – Today, President Trump commuted the term of imprisonment of Philip Esformes, while leaving the remaining aspects of his sentence, including supervised release and restitution, intact. This commutation is supported by former Attorneys General Edwin Meese and Michael Mukasey, as well as former Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson. In addition, former Attorneys General Edwin Meese, John Ashcroft, and Alberto Gonzalez, as well as other notable legal figures such as Ken Starr, have filed in support of his appeal challenging his conviction on the basis of prosecutorial misconduct related to violating attorney-client privilege.
While in prison, Mr. Esformes, who is 52, has been devoted to prayer and repentance and is in declining health.