One of Trump's top congressional allies sentenced in corruption case

The list of people close to Trump who've ended up in prison is rather long (and it may yet grow longer).
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By Steve Benen

When then-Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) was first brought up on federal corruption charges, the New York Republican -- the first member of Congress to endorse Donald Trump -- initially pleaded not guilty. In September, Collins reversed course and acknowledged what was plainly true: he did what prosecutors accused him of doing.

The Buffalo News reported late last week on his sentence.

Chris Collins cried so hard that many of his words got lost in his anguish.

But that act of contrition only meant so much to U.S. District Court Judge Vernon S. Broderick, who on Friday sentenced Collins to 26 months in prison for launching an insider trading scheme with a call to his son from a White House picnic in June 2017.... Broderick also fined Collins $200,000. And once he leaves prison, the former four-term Republican lawmaker from Clarence will have to go through one year of supervised release.

Stepping back, I think there are a few angles to this that are worth keeping in mind. The first is that the evidence against Collins was ridiculously strong. Had he gone to trial, the disgraced former congressman would've lost.

Second, the list of people close to Trump who've ended up in prison is alarmingly long, and it may yet grow longer. Former White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn is awaiting sentencing, and so is former Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), the second congressional Republican to endorse Trump's 2016 candidacy.

And third, I'll be eager to see if Collins seeks some kind of presidential pardon.

Let's not forget that Trump complained publicly about the New York congressman's indictment a couple of years ago, suggesting the Justice Department should have considered the Republican Party's electoral interests ahead of the 2018 midterms. (I continue to believe it was among the most indefensible moments of his presidency to date.)

Trump had already demonstrated a willingness to abuse his pardon powers, and an eagerness to do so again. It would be outrageous for the president to intervene on Collins' behalf, but that doesn't rule out the possibility of it happening anyway.

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