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Trump Pardons Two Russia Inquiry Figures and Blackwater Guards

The pardons support the notion that Mr. Trump has used his pardon power more aggressively than most presidents for personal and political purposes. The founders gave the president the power to serve as the ultimate emergency brake on the criminal justice system to right the wrongs of those deserving of grace in mercy.

A tabulation by the Harvard Law School professor Jack Goldsmith found that of the 45 pardons or commutations that Mr. Trump had granted up until Tuesday, 88 percent aided someone with a personal tie to the president or furthered his political aims — a pattern that Mr. Goldsmith said Mr. Trump appeared to maintain with Tuesday’s pardons.

“They continue Trump’s unprecedented pattern of issuing self-serving pardons and commutations that advance his personal interests, reward friends, seek retribution against enemies, or gratify political constituencies,” Mr. Goldsmith said. “Like his past pardons, most if not all of them appear to be based on insider recommendations rather than normal Justice Department vetting process.”

The pardons of the Blackwater contractors have direct links to two of Mr. Trump’s close allies.

The former head of Blackwater, Erik Prince, is a longtime Trump supporter whose conduct was investigated by the special counsel’s office. During the 2017 transition, Mr. Prince planned to meet with a Russia-sanctioned banker in the Seychelles to come up with ways the Russian government and the incoming Trump administration could cooperate. For reasons that remain unclear, the meeting never occurred.

And Mr. Prince’s sister is Mr. Trump’s education secretary, Betsy DeVos.

By nullifying the legal consequences of convictions in the Russia inquiry, Mr. Trump escalated a long campaign, aided by his departing attorney general, William P. Barr, to effectively undo the investigation by Mr. Mueller, discredit the resulting prosecutions and punish those who instigated it in the first place.

The White House continued to chip away at the legacy of the Mueller investigation in the statement released Tuesday night. It made a point of saying that the Mueller investigation “found no evidence of collusion in connection with Russia’s attempts to interfere in the election,” and it dismissively referred to Mr. Papadopoulos’s crime as “process related.”

Mr. Papadopoulos, 33, served 12 days in jail for lying to the F.B.I. about his contacts with Russian intermediaries during the 2016 presidential race. He later published a book portraying himself as a victim of a “deep state” plot to “bring down President Trump.” In an interview last month, he welcomed the possibility of clemency.

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