The Department of Justice is currently investigating alleged bribery for pardon scheme. On Tuesday, federal courts unsealed records pointing to potential criminal activity. It involves channeling money to the White House or Political Committee. In exchange, the donor obtains a presidential pardon.
The DC District Court released 20 pages of partially blacked-out documents last Tuesday. It shows Chief Judge Beryl Howell’s review of a request from federal prosecutors. They requested access to documents obtained during bribery for pardon investigation.
The papers do not show a timeline of the alleged activity. It also did not identify the people involved. However, it did determine that communications between people included at least one lawyer. The communications came from an office raided by investigators sometime during the summer.
Filter Team Access
A prosecution filter team went over more than 50 digital devices taken from a raid. The filter team looks for data for privileged information. Prosecutors cannot use this as evidence, nor can the government look at it. Attorney-client communications are often privileged information. As such, they are inadmissible as evidence in a court of law.
Prosecutors requested permission to the filter team’s holdings. They believed the devices contained email communication that contains evidence of criminal activity. According to the documents, these include a “secret lobbying scheme.” It also includes a “bribery conspiracy” that offered “a substantial political contribution in exchange for a presidential pardon or reprieve of the sentence.” The document names the convicted defendant, but the copy released blacked the name.
Judge Howell Allows Access
In this case, Howell allowed the prosecutors access. The court suspends attorney-client privileges when discussing a crime, among other exceptions. Howell said the investigators can review the communications because the emails included someone who is not an attorney. “This political strategy to obtain a presidential pardon was ‘parallel’ to and distinct from” one individual’s role as an attorney advocate for another individual, the ruling said, redacting both names.
The opinion entered by Howell on August 28 focuses on an ongoing investigation that involves at least two individuals. They “acted as lobbyists to senior White House officials, without complying with the registration requirement of the Lobbying Disclosure Act.” The individuals attempted to secure a pardon or reprieve of sentence for'” an unidentified individual. The documents blacked out the individual’s name, as the investigation remains active.
The individual-centered in this case remained anonymous. However, the documents show the person faces a prison sentence. In addition, the person was about to surrender to the Bureau of Prisons. The government clarified that they found no communication tying the defense counsel to the unknown individual. This includes the months before “[redacted]’s surrender to BOP custody.”
It remains unclear what happens next. It is also unclear the investigation reached or will reach a grand jury. Also, the document includes a government statement that said it “identifies both individuals and conduct that have not been charged by the grand jury.” In addition, prosecutors opposed the public release of the months-old request. Instead, Howell asked to release a redacted version of the order. The case’s docket remains under seal.
At this point, Justice has yet to file charges on anybody. A Justice Department official said, “no government official was or is currently a subject or target of the investigation disclosed in this filing.” Meanwhile, the White House declined to comment on the matter. Trump mentioned before that he might pardon some associates charged with federal crimes. For this investigation, there are no indications that these people are the same individuals as the DOJ investigation. Trump himself fired a tweet Tuesday night. He posted: “Pardon investigation is Fake News!”
Earlier, media outlets reported that lawyer Rudy Giuliani discussed pardons with the President. This included preemptive pardons for Trump’s children Ivanka, Eric, and Donald. However, Giuliani denied the report. He said that the “(New York) Times is completely wrong.” Also, he denied asking for a pardon for himself.
Watch the CNBC News report on the DOJ investigation on the alleged bribery for pardon scheme:
Do you think the bribery for pardon allegations reach all the way to the top? Or, do you think some officials are profiting from associating with the President? Let us know what you think about this case. Go to the comment section and share your thoughts on this matter.