President Trump pardoned disgraced former Rep. Chris Collins late Tuesday, granting a reprieve to the upstate New York politician forced from Congress after he was caught on camera phoning phoning insider stock tips to his son.
Collins — who once represented suburban and rural communities near Buffalo — was sentenced by a Manhattan federal judge to 26 months in prison in January after he pled guilty to the insider trading charges.
The longtime Republican was one of President Trump’s first prominent establishment GOP supporters during his insurgent — and ultimately successful — 2016 campaign for the party’s presidential nomination.
He was one of more than a dozen people pardoned by Trump this week during the waning days of his administration.
Federal prosecutors first filed the bombshell charges against Collins two years ago, alleging the lawmaker phoned his son with an insider tip about an Australian biotechnology company’s key new drug failing an important trial and that the stock was likely to crash.
Collins scored the information from the chief executive of Innate Immunotherapeutics, where sat on the board of directors and was among the firm’s biggest shareholders, Manhattan prosecutors said.
His son, Cameron, and six other investors quickly dumped their shares before the massive selloff — avoiding $768,000 in losses.
Prosecutors said that Collins and the then-25-year-old Cameron desperately dialed each other a half dozen times before eventually connecting at 7:16 p.m. on July 22, 2017.
The congressman was attending the annual Congressional Picnic at the time and made the call from the South Lawn of the White House — in view of a CBS News camera that was rolling at the time.
The video shows the lawmaker, wearing a white golf shirt and gray pants, speaking on a cellphone outside the White House at 7:17 p.m.
Collins resigned from Congress on Sept. 30, 2018 and pleaded guilty to two insider trading charges the next day.
“I regret my actions,” he told Manhattan federal court Judge Vernon Broderick during his Oct. 1 appearance. “This is something I will live with for the rest of my life.”