The Department of Justice is investigating a potential bribery scheme that allegedly sought to funnel money in the form of a “political contribution” in exchange for a “presidential pardon or reprieve of sentence.”
The revelation, which was made in court documents that were unsealed on Tuesday in federal court, does not disclose “a timeline of the alleged scheme, or any names of people potentially involved, except that communications between people including at least one lawyer were seized from an office that was raided sometime before the end of this summer,” CNN reported. “No one appears to have been publicly charged with a related crime to date.”
The court documents state that “over fifty digital media devices, including iPhones, iPads, laptops, thumb drives, and computer and external hard drives” were seized that allegedly contained evidence of “criminal activity,” specifically a “secret lobbying scheme” in which unnamed individuals acted as lobbyists to senior White House officials without registering as lobbyists, in accordance with U.S. law, to secure “a pardon or reprieve of sentence.”
“The heavily redacted documents revealed Tuesday do not name the individuals involved or President Donald Trump,” NBC News reported. “They also do not indicate if any White House officials had knowledge of the scheme.”
Trump responded to the report late on Tuesday evening, writing on Twitter: “Pardon investigation is Fake News!”
Pardon investigation is Fake News!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 2, 2020
CNN separately reported that Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani is one individual that some Trump associates are pushing Trump to pardon:
President Donald Trump’s associates are making appeals to him in the hopes of obtaining pardons before he leaves office, a source familiar with the matter told CNN on Tuesday.
The source said the list of associates broaching the subject of preemptive pardons that would seek to shield those individuals from prosecution includes Rudy Giuliani, who has been leading the President’s long-shot legal battles to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in his role as Trump’s personal attorney. …
Giuliani denied discussing a preemptive pardon with the President, telling CNN that The “(New York) Times is completely wrong.” He further denied that he has talked to anyone at the White House about a pardon for himself.
It’s not clear what potential criminal exposure Giuliani or other associates are attempting to preempt. But the first source familiar with the discussions went on to cite what friends and allies of the President see as hostility from the incoming Biden administration toward Trump associates.