The United States President, Donald Trump, pardoned 41 people on Tuesday and Wednesday, including four guards of the Blackwater, who were sentenced to long prison terms for killing 14 Iraqis, including two children, and causing injuries to 20 others in the heart of Baghdad during busy hours. The list to be pardoned on second day includes Charles Kushner, father of Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Though the Blackwater, a security firm engaged in protecting the visiting US dignitaries in Iraq, claimed that its men shot dead these people in self-defence on September 16, 2007 it is the US court which in 2014 found them guilty and sentenced them to long prison terms—one of them got life imprisonment.
President Trump’s decision evoked sharp reaction in Iraq with the country’s foreign ministry urging him to reconsider his decision.
The massacre of the Iraqi citizens by personnel of the private security firm was one such rare incident to take place in that country which remained under US control for several years since the March 19, 2003 invasion which led to the overthrow of the then President Saddam Hussain. The latter was caught after many months and subsequently executed.
Besides these four, Trump pardoned 11 others on Tuesday, which included three former Republican Congressmen. On Wednesday he pardoned 26 others which included Charles.
Trump pardoned George Papadopoulos who was his foreign policy adviser. He pleaded guilty in 2017 to making false statements to federal authorities as part of the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller. The other beneficiary of Presidential clemency was Alex van der Zwaan, an attorney who pleaded guilty to the same charge in 2018.
Charles Kushner is a real estate developer who pleaded guilty to charges including tax evasion and witness tampering in 2004. Trump also pardoned his 2016 campaign chairman Paul Manafort and longtime ally Roger Stone.
President Trump defended his right to pardon before Christmas by stating that he has the power to pardon himself too.