WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump granted pardons Tuesday to two people linked to a probe into alleged collusion between his campaign and Russia along with a list of others as time ticks away on his remaining weeks in office.
The moves are sure to draw even further controversy and come as the outgoing Republican continues to refuse to concede defeat to Democrat Joe Biden in the November election.
They add to pardons already issued to political allies of Trump, due to leave office on January 20.
The White House said in a statement that Trump had granted full pardons to 15 people and commuted all or part of the sentences for five others.
A full pardon was given to George Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign adviser who admitted lying to federal investigators about his contacts with Russians.
Papadopoulos was a member of Trump’s foreign policy advisory panel when he ran for president in 2016.
He pleaded guilty in October 2017 to lying to the FBI about contacts with a professor who promised to connect him to senior Russian officials.
He cooperated with investigators led by Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor who conducted a two-year probe into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Papadopoulos spent 12 days in jail after his guilty plea.
“Today’s pardon helps correct the wrong that Mueller’s team inflicted on so many people,” the White House statement said.
Another full pardon was granted to Alex van der Zwaan, a Dutch lawyer who was also convicted in connection with Mueller’s probe.
Full pardons were also granted to four Blackwater security guards convicted over the 2007 killing of Iraqis.
The four guards for the Blackwater security firm convicted over the 2007 shootings included Nicholas Slatten, who had been sentenced to life.
They were convicted of opening fire in Baghdad’s crowded Nisur Square on September 16, 2007 in a bloody episode that caused an international scandal and heightened resentment of the American presence.
The shooting left at least 14 Iraqi civilians dead and 17 wounded while perpetuating the image of US security contractors run amok.
The Blackwater guards said they acted in self-defense in response to insurgent fire.
The White House statement said the four men, former members of the military, “have a long history of service to the nation.”
Others included on the list were three former Republican members of Congress.