Receiving pardons tonight—and surely, there will be many more coming—are George Papadopoulos and Alex van der Zwaan, who both pled guilty to lying to federal investigators probing Russian hacking and propaganda efforts on behalf of Trump. They join the previously pardoned Flynn, who pled guilty to lying as part of the same cover-up.
Also receiving pardons are three Republican congressmen caught committing crimes in office. California ex-Rep. Duncan Hunter stole donated campaign funds for his own personal use. New York ex-Rep. Chris Collins pled guilty to lying to the FBI and to attempting to commit securities fraud after being caught engaging in insider trading. Texas ex-Rep. Steve Stockman was convicted of money laundering. All three were unquestionably guilty of corruption in office; in pardoning each of the disgraced House Republicans, Trump is clearly signaling his contempt for those that would attempt to hold his political allies to account.
For good measure, and as reminder that aside from personal fealty of allies there are few things as seemingly dear to Trump’s heart as torturing or killing the innocent, Trump has also pardoned four Blackwater private contractors responsible for killing 17 civilians in Baghdad’s Nisour Square, an act that fomented terrorism against U.S. forces for years afterwards.
There’s no subtlety to these pardons, and its almost certain that they are the prelude to a host of even more egregious ones. Trump is using his office to immunize his allies from financial crimes and from lying to federal investigators, the two criminal acts that Trump himself has been attempting to dodge after misleading investigators and engaging in what appears to have been bank fraud. And he is pairing it with the pardon of those willing to commit violent crimes for what he believes to be good reasons—as far-right militias nationwide declare themselves ready to commit such violence in an attempt to keep Trump in power despite losing his bid for reelection.