Merry Christmas! Outgoing President Donald Trump has issued a new round of pardons, and the individuals receiving them include:
• Former Rep. Chris Collins of New York, an early Trump 2016 supporter who was convicted earlier this year of committing securities fraud and lying to the FBI. Collins gave his family members information about a failed pharmaceutical trial involving a company called Innate Immunotherapeutics, which he sat on the board of, and held stock in, despite being a member of Congress. Collins had previously introduced legislation that would have benefited the company directly.
• Former California Rep. Duncan Hunter, another early Trump 2016 supporter who pleaded guilty last December to embezzling campaign funds. Prosecutors had charged Hunter with using more than $250,000 in campaign money on a number of lifestyle expenses, including taking an Uber at 7:40 a.m. on a weekday from the apartment of “Individual 18,” who was notably not his wife, to his D.C. office.
• George Papadopoulos, the zero-qualification doofus who served as a “foreign policy adviser” to the Trump 2016 campaign, who pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to federal authorities about the circumstances under which he’d heard that Russia had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. (Papadopoulos has spent the subsequent years arguing that he was the victim of a high-level Obama administration conspiracy, as if anyone in the Obama administration was interested in using the limited time available in their wild and precious life to orchestrate a setup in which an unpaid adviser to the Trump campaign would make statements to the FBI that were easily and immediately disproved by his own Facebook account.)
• Four former employees of the Blackwater mercenary company who were convicted—three of voluntary manslaughter and one of first-degree murder—for participating in a 2007 massacre in which 17 unarmed Iraqis died. One of the victims of the massacre was a 9-year-old boy.
Duncan Hunter, the embezzler, was actually involved in lobbying Trump to issue a pardon he issued previously in another war crimes case, while Blackwater was run by Erik Prince, a behind-the-scenes Trump adviser and right-wing operative who is also Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ brother. This all speaks to the larger purpose of modern Republican justice, which is to encourage behavior that enforces and celebrates the supremacy of the tribe, even if it undermines nominally conservative values like free-market competition and the enforcement of military discipline.