According to recently unsealed court documents, the U.S. Justice Department has been investigating whether or not White House officials were involved in a money-for-presidential-pardon bribery scheme. It appears as though a lawyer for a convict communicated with a White House administrator about seeking a pardon from the president, although it is unknown whether they were involved in the potential scheme or simply speaking as usual.
As of now, no one seems to have been charged. A Justice Department official has taken this notion a step further, saying to CNN that “no government official was or is currently a subject or target of the investigation disclosed in this filing.” This may not last though, as the investigation was still underway at the time the documents were submitted and prosecutors noted that they hoped to “confront” the three individuals, and their conduct.
There was no evidence that there were any direct payments made to White House officials, but the pardon was for someone who apparently had made, and intended to make, “political contributions.”
The 20 pages are largely redacted, making it difficult to make out who all may have been included in the findings. There is also no visible timeline shown within the documents. It was determined that findings, including emails confiscated after a raid conducted the summer of 2020, would not be protected under attorney-client privilege, though.
On December 1, President Trump briefly addressed the claims on Twitter, calling it “fake news.”
The idea of presidential pardons is an especial hot issue right now, as President Trump has recently spoken with Rudy Giuliani about a “pre-emptive pardon” that would potentially protect Giuliani from legal action before he leaves office in January. Trump also pardoned Michael T. Flynn, his former national security guard, after Flynn was found guilty of lying to the FBI about contacts with Russia’s ambassador.