The DOJ Is Investigating Whether Someone Tried to Buy a Pardon From Trump’s White House
President Donald Trump pardons Corn, the national Thanksgiving turkey, in the Rose Garden of the White House, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020, in Washington, as first lady Melania Trump watches. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh (AP Photo/Susan Walsh
The Justice Department is investigating a possible scheme to offer a bribe in exchange for help securing a presidential pardon, according to a newly-released court document.
The partially-redacted filing, which was published Tuesday evening after a judge in Washington D.C. approved its release, gave few details and didn’t name any of the individuals involved in the probe.
But the document raises incendiary new questions about the tail-end of the Trump era, at a moment when the president is widely expected to pardon his friends, allies, and possibly even himself, before his term ends in January.
Authorities exercised a search warrant sometime before August that resulted in the seizure of documents and devices that stored files containing evidence of a “bribery conspiracy scheme,” according to the court filing. It describes the scheme by saying: “[name redacted] would offer a substantial political contribution in exchange for a presidential pardon or reprieve of sentence for [name redacted].”
Investigators seized “over fifty digital media devices” including iPhones, iPads, thumb drives and computer drives with “several terabytes of data,” according to the court filing.
Two people, whose names have been withheld, “acted as lobbyists to senior White House officials, without complying with the requirement of the Lobbying Disclosure Act,” according to the filing.
Several of Trump’s associates and even former White House aides have been charged with crimes, including former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, former campaign chairman Steve Bannon, and longtime friend and former political advisor Roger Stone.
Trump granted Flynn a full pardon on the day before Thanksgiving, and commuted Stone’s sentence. Flynn had previously pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about speaking to a Russian diplomat during the transition before Trump’s presidency. Stone was convicted of lying to Congress.
There’s no evidence that members of Trump’s inner circle, or anyone else, have been charged with any crime related to attempting to secure a pardon.
A spokesman for the White House didn’t immediately return VICE News’ request for comment.