US President Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday announced a series of pardons, including two for men who pleaded guilty in Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, as well as for Republicans who once served in Congress and military contractors involved in a deadly shooting of Iraqi civilians, CNN reports.

The pardons of former campaign aide George Papadopoulos, former US congressmen Duncan Hunter and Chris Collins, and the four Blackwater guards involved in the Iraq massacre kick off what is expected to be a flurry of pardons and commutations in the coming weeks as Trump concludes his term.

Also pardoned on Tuesday are Alex van der Zwaan, a Dutch lawyer who was sentenced to 30 days in jail after pleading guilty to lying to Mueller investigators; two Border Patrol agents convicted in 2006 of shooting and wounding an unarmed undocumented immigrant and then covering it up; and several people convicted of non-violent drug crimes serving lengthy sentences.

Both Papadopoulos and Van der Zwaan pleaded guilty to lying to investigators during the Russia investigation.

Papadopoulos had lied to investigators about his contacts with people connected to Russia, including discussing with them "dirt" that could hurt Hillary Clinton in 2016 and a possible trip by Trump during the campaign to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to CNN.

At his sentencing, Papadopoulos' then-lawyer called him "pro-FBI" and said he had lied so he might still be considered for a job in the Trump administration.

Van der Zwaan, who is also the son-in-law of the Ukrainian-Russian billionaire German Khan, spent almost a month in prison before being deported to Europe in June 2018.

Hunter, who was sentenced earlier this year to 11 months in prison and three years of supervised release related to his misuse of more than $200,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses, was recommended for a pardon by "many members of Congress," according to the White House release.

The former California lawmaker pleaded guilty in December 2019 to one count of conspiracy to misuse campaign funds and was set to be on supervised release for three years after serving his prison sentence. Hunter would have started his sentence in May, but it was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic, and would have reported to a federal prison in West Texas in January 2021.

Collins, a former New York congressman, has been serving his 26-month prison sentence in a minimum-security federal prison in Florida since October.

He pleaded guilty in October 2019 to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and one count of making a false statement.

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