Corruption in the White House

Investigating in potential bribery scheme to obtain pardon

The documents provide no indication President Donald Trump was aware of the plot


The Department of Justice (DOJ) is investigating a potentially criminal scheme involving paying a bribe to people either in or affiliated with the White House in exchange for an unknown person receiving a presidential pardon, according to court documents that were unsealed Tuesday.

The court records, which were unsealed by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, say the DOJ investigation involves two people, whose names are redacted, who were improperly acting as lobbyists to secure the pardon for a person whose name is also redacted. The plot involved the person offering “a substantial political contribution in exchange for a presidential pardon or reprieve of sentence.”

It was not immediately clear for whom the pardon would be granted or where the bribe would be directed, and the documents provide no indication President Trump was aware of the plot.

The disclosure, contained in a 20-page filing littered with redactions, comes amid reports that Trump is considering pardoning an array of associates in the waning days of his presidency.

The new filing shows Chief Judge Beryl Howell was conducting a review in August of a request from federal prosecutors to examine documents that had been obtained from a search warrant as part of an investigation into the plot.

The release shows investigators recovered more than 50 digital devices, including iPhones, iPads, laptops and computer drives, after a raid of unidentified offices. The prosecutors were requesting access to the devices on suspicion that they showed alleged criminal activity regarding the “secret lobbying scheme” for the unnamed person.

The files indicate the devices contain communications between a defendant and an attorney, which are typically kept from prosecutors because they are considered privileged. However, such privilege is not applied when an exchange involves discussion of a crime, and Howell granted prosecutors access to the devices.

"The political strategy to obtain a presidential pardon was 'parallel' to and distinct from [redacted]'s role as an attorney-advocate for [redacted name]," Howell wrote in her court order.

The new documents do not include any names of the people involved or when the scheme was hatched. They do say the two people who were working to organize the agreement were acting as lobbyists to senior administration officials but did not comply with the Lobbying Disclosure Act’s registration requirement.

It also appears prosecutors have not yet provided evidence to the judge regarding a direct payment but that the person seeking a pardon was doing so for protection regarding political contributions they’d made.

No charges have yet been filed that indicate a person has been prosecuted over the alleged bribery.

Speculation over possible grants of clemency in the waning days of Trump’s presidency reached a fever pitch last week when Trump pardoned Michael Flynn, his first national security adviser, who pleaded guilty to a charge of lying to federal investigators about his contacts with the top Russian diplomat in the United States. The charge was brought in connection with former special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

Allies of the president on Capitol Hill and in the media have pressed him in recent days to preemptively pardon an array of confidants, family members and even himself, floating claims that they could be targeted by politically motivated charges once Trump leaves office.

Read more

Steve Bannon urged Facebook followers to 'Take Action' on eve of capitol riot

At 2:25 p.m. on Jan. 5, almost exactly 24 hours before the Capitol riots began, Steve Bannon posted a Facebook update: “TAKE ACTION. THEY ARE TRYING TO STEAL THE ELECTION,” the former senior White House adviser urged his followers in a Facebook group he ran called “Own Your Vote.”

Attorney for ‘QAnon shaman’ asks Trump to pardon rioters

The lawyer for the “QAnon shaman” who was part of the deadly siege of the Capitol last week publicly petitioned President Donald Trump on Thursday to pardon his client.

Capitol rioters planned to capture and kill politicians, say prosecutors

Federal prosecutors have offered an ominous new assessment of last week’s siege of the US Capitol by Donald Trump’s supporters, saying in a court filing that rioters intended “to capture and assassinate elected officials”. Prosecutors offered that view in a filing asking a judge to detain Jacob Chansley, the Arizona man and QAnon conspiracy theorist who was photographed wearing horns as he stood at the desk of the vice-president, Mike Pence, in the chamber of the US Senate.

After the 'witch-hunt': Walls close in on Trump in final days

President Trump is growing increasingly isolated after the House on Wednesday made him the only president in U.S. history to be impeached twice, putting a final, lasting stain on his legacy just a week before he leaves office. Cabinet members and White House officials have rushed for the exits following Trump’s remarks to a violent mob of supporters that ultimately stormed the U.S. Capitol last week in a bloody and dark episode of American history. Even Trump’s most loyal allies have been put off by the developments, and aides are absent from the airwaves and the public.