Patterico's Pontifications

12/2/2020

DoJ Investigates Possible Scheme to Bribe Trump for a Pardon

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:46 am



Someone may have been trying to buy a pardon from Donald Trump:

The Justice Department is investigating a potential crime related to funneling money to the White House or related political committee in exchange for a presidential pardon, according to court records unsealed Tuesday in federal court.

The case is the latest legal twist in the waning days of President Donald Trump’s administration after several of his top advisers have been convicted of federal criminal charges and as the possibility rises of Trump giving pardons to those who’ve been loyal to him.

The Justice Department is quoted as saying “no government official was or is currently a subject or target of the investigation disclosed in this filing.” Meaning they must have warned Trump before he had a chance to take the money. (The only reason he would ever turn down a bribe is if he thought he would be caught or if he thought it was a bad deal.) He’s still lying about it, though, claiming the story is “fake news”:

But not only has DoJ confirmed the investigation, there is a court order about it. More:

The disclosure is in 20 pages of partially redacted documents made public by the DC District Court on Tuesday afternoon. The records show Chief Judge Beryl Howell’s review in August of a request from prosecutors to access documents obtained in a search as part of a bribery-for-pardon investigation.

The filings don’t reveal 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.

There are clues in the court order that help eliminate certain folks as possible suspects. The suspect turned himself into the Bureau of Prisons at one point. The Court uses an apostrophe after the name at a couple of points, suggesting a last name ending in s, or perhaps z or x. Also, the document is in Times Roman 12-point font, so you can plug in different names and eliminate them as too short or long. I spent some time with these clues last night and feel pretty confident the person is not someone you are likely to have heard of. It’s not Flynn, or Rick Gates, or Manafort, or Firtash, or anyone else I can think of.

Meanwhile, there are people who don’t have to purchase the president’s consideration for a pardon:

President Trump has discussed with advisers whether to grant pre-emptive pardons to his children, to his son-in-law and to his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, and talked with Mr. Giuliani about pardoning him as recently as last week, according to two people briefed on the matter.

Mr. Trump has told others that he is concerned that a Biden Justice Department might seek retribution against the president by targeting the oldest three of his five children — Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump — as well as Ms. Trump’s husband, Jared Kushner, a White House senior adviser.

I’m less and less a fan of the pardon power. It’s too often used to benefit cronies — and not just when an active criminal like Donald Trump occupies the Oval Office. I don’t know that I would do away with it, but we need constitutional reform.

P.S. Speaking of someone who was pardoned, Michael Flynn is joining other Trumpist kooks in calling for Donald Trump to impose martial law to order a new election.

They are what we said they were.

35 Responses to “DoJ Investigates Possible Scheme to Bribe Trump for a Pardon”

  1. If Trump says it’s fake news, it must mean he is in on the scam.

    noel (9fead1)

  2. Wait a second… didn’t Trump pardon Rod Blagojevich for this same type of hustle?

    noel (9fead1)

  3. DC Circuit, so it can’t be Lori Loughlin. Good news for JVW.

    nk (1d9030)

  4. No, Blagojevich was not sent up for selling pardons, he was sent up for attempting to sell Obama’s vacated Senate seat, and he was not pardoned, his sentence was only commuted by roughly half.

    nk (1d9030)

  5. “We The People” supports martial law?

    Man, is that a misnomer.

    noel (9fead1)

  6. Regardless about what you think about prosecuting Flynn for his lies to the FBI it’s hard not to conclude that he’s a wack job who no longer cares about our country.

    If the DOJ is investigating someone for trying to bribe Trump, why is Trump upset and crying fake news? Why isn’t he replying with something like “I’m too rich to bribe. So it’s sad someone may have broken the law trying to do the impossible.” Does he think the story makes him look bad? Is the target still in his close circle?

    Time123 (daab2f)

  7. Now THAT is sedition. Remember those names. Flynn, Powell, Bartiromo, Levin etc.

    Have we ever seen this before? How does Fox News tolerate this? And the President is listening to these guys? You should be nervous.

    noel (9fead1)

  8. Honestly. I cannot believe that this “We The People” thing is real. Tell me that it is not real.

    noel (9fead1)

  9. The only surprise for me is that this kind of news didn’t come out sooner. Abusing the power of the pardon is right in the wheelhouse of this corrupt, transactional president.
    Inauguration Day can’t come soon enough.

    Paul Montagu (77c694)

  10. “We the Kooks”.

    noel (9fead1)

  11. @9: Not surprising to see the need to jump to conclusions before any facts.

    It’s how we got to Trump Russia Collusion, and eventually to a Durham probe which now (you may have heard somewhere) has special counsel status. Congrats.

    beer ‘n pretzels (042d67)

  12. Honestly. I cannot believe that this “We The People” thing is real. Tell me that it is not real.

    Remember the “Flight 93 Election”? The assertions that Donald Trump is our “last chance” to save America? That he’s “the one thing standing between us and socialism”? That he’s fighting on the side of God against the forces of evil? That America will be finished if the radical Joe Biden gets the presidency?

    Why wouldn’t the people who think that way see martial law under their heroic national savior as preferable to a President Biden?

    Radegunda (20775b)

  13. In my opinion, Fox News had better fire these crazies or they are complicit in their coup attempt. This is extremely dangerous.

    noel (9fead1)

  14. Not to belittle this story… its interesting, but we don’t know the full story.

    Stolen from another thread, nk opines this perspective:

    And, come on, we’re talking about the guy (and next term likely gal) who can fire off 4,000 nuclear warheads. Trusting them not to abuse the pardon power more than is seemly is a pretty small thing, I think.

    nk (1d9030) — 12/2/2020 @ 7:22 am

    I dunno it’s a small thing, but I think we simply need to be cognizant as to why the pardon power exist. Furthermore, it’s a power that’s here to stay as it would take a Constitutional amendment to change it, and that likelihood is near infinitesimal.

    If Trump wants to be Trumpy…not only he could pardon himself, his family, campaign officials and his current/past administration officials… AND he should pardon Hillary Clinton, Comey, Clinesmith, Stzrok, McCabe AND Joe Biden for any past or alleged crimes committed while in office. To be extra sooper dooper Trumpy… pardon Assaunge, Snowden and any federal marijuana convictions. (if he does that, I still don’t see there’s enough outrage that would culminate to a constitutional amendment to reign in the pardon power)

    You want to “Move On.org” and unite the country?

    Well… you’ll have several factions united:
    -those will be outraged that Trump and orbits are pardoned, but nary a peep about the others.
    -those will be outraged that Hillary Clinton and Obama holdovers are pardoned, but nary a peep about the others.
    -those will be outraged at the pardon itself, as they won’t let go past alleged acts.

    Which faction will you be in?

    The only winners, imo, will be the cable news channel.

    whembly (a23745)

  15. It’s how we got to Trump Russia Collusion, and eventually to a Durham probe which now (you may have heard somewhere) has special counsel status. Congrats.

    Non-sequitur.
    You do like to frequently bring up–a lot–a legitimate counterintelligence investigation and legitimate Special Counsel investigation that delivered indictments on 34 individuals and 3 businesses, along with seven guilty pleas and five prison sentences. Why do those investigations bother you so much?

    Paul Montagu (77c694)

  16. @9: Not surprising to see the need to jump to conclusions before any facts.

    It’s how we got to Trump Russia Collusion, and eventually to a Durham probe which now (you may have heard somewhere) has special counsel status. Congrats.

    beer ‘n pretzels (042d67) — 12/2/2020 @ 8:40 am

    You mean facts like Trump going on NBC and telling Lester Holt he fired Comey to stop the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election? Those kinds of facts?

    Time123 (daab2f)

  17. Martial law. I wonder if Barr knew that this was coming and he is trying to head it off.

    noel (9fead1)

  18. Can you be convicted of interfering with or corrupting an election, after it is certified?

    noel (9fead1)

  19. @11 – Not surprising to see the need to jump to conclusions before any facts.

    For example, concluding that Trump won the election in a landslide but it was stolen by a massive conspiracy of Democrats and Communist Chinese and Venezuelans and Republican officials and probably the FBI and the DOJ too, and now Bill Barr is a traitor because he said he didn’t see evidence to support the stolen-election theory? That kind of jumping to conclusions?

    The purpose of the Mueller investigation was to gather facts, starting with the evidence already presented.

    We were promised that the Durham probe would unearth a shocking scandal before the election. Trump wanted some kind of revelation to be made before the election. There’s been nothing. The announcement about a special counsel might be just throwing a bone to Trump after Barr said he hadn’t seen evidence of massive election fraud.

    Radegunda (20775b)

  20. I wonder how long special counsel Durham’s tenure will be given the part of 28 CFR 600.3 which says “The Special Counsel shall be selected from outside the United States Government.”

    JRH (52aed3)

  21. @20 As I said in another thread…

    It does seem improper for Barr to appoint Durham, however that regulation isn’t enforcible as it’s the AG’s call. Section 600.10 of the SCO regs, in Title 28 of the Code of Federal Regulations… in which that section explicitly provide that any failure by the DOJ to comply with their strict terms creates no enforceable rights or objections for any third party.

    Just as when acting-AG Rosenstein appointed Mueller to SCO, Mueller should not have been appointed because there was neither a strong factual basis for a criminal investigation, nor was there going to be a conflict that would have prevented the DOJ from investigating the matter in the normal course. Again, any objection to this was not enforcible as it’s literally the AG’s call.

    However, I’m not on board with Durham appointment as he shouldn’t have been appointed in the first place, due to the fact that it obviously violates the spirit of the DOJ regulations AND it’s used to try to handcuff the incoming administration. (an administration that I vehemently am against politically).

    whembly (a23745)

  22. 15. Paul Montagu (77c694) — 12/2/2020 @ 8:49 am

    . –a legitimate counterintelligence investigation

    Thecounter-intelligence investigation, or the form it took, was started afteer pressure by Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid and maybe some other Democrats; the criminal investigation was started by Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, on the premise that Trump might have had some improper motives in doing so.

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions had recused himself from anything related to the 2016 election; the Attorney General, for these purposes was Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

    Rod Rosenstein did not want to leave McCabe in charge of this investigation, nor did he want to shut it down, maybe because he could be accused of a cover-up if he did. James Comey had leaked a memo which could give to the suspicion that Donald Trump wanted to cover up something, so he couldn;t just shut it down. He came up with the idea of putting former FBI Director Robert S. (Bob) Mueller, who had had support from both parties for extending his term as FBI Director, in charge of the investigation.

    First, by trying to get President Donald Trump to appoint him FBI Director (admittedly a longshot) and then by naming him a Special Counsel.

    Sammy Finkelman (bbf750)

  23. I think this was what looked like an attempt by someone to buy a pardon that got stopped, and the question now is, was it explicit or brazen enough so that you have a criminal case or did they stop it too soon for that purpose?

    And then there’s some issue of attorney-client privilege. Can the prosecutors be shielded from knowledge of attorney client communication, and is there enough evidence without that?

    They may never have had a chance to approach anyone who could be an avenue to Trump.

    Sammy Finkelman (bbf750)

  24. Remember when Rudy threatened Trump a few months ago? And now we know he’s trying to get a pardon.

    in which that section explicitly provide that any failure by the DOJ to comply with their strict terms creates no enforceable rights or objections for any third party.

    Still, Trump’s little circle of jackasses can’t investigate anyone, obviously, and that’s why the law forbids what Barr did, appointing his boy to be the authoritative investigator. The Trump answer “this rule can be broken and you can’t do anything about it, because we are deciding which rules matter” is why America rejected these losers.

    Dustin (4237e0)

  25. Thecounter-intelligence investigation, or the form it took, was started afteer pressure by Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid and maybe some other Democrats…

    So what, Sammy. The IG concluded that it was properly predicated.
    As for the pardon investigation, I said in not so many words that a bribes-for-pardons scheme is consistent with Trump’s zero character, because that’s the kind of character he is. If it involves someone outside his sphere, we’ll see.

    Paul Montagu (77c694)

  26. Weismann lied or “misrepresented” to the court, ruined lives and put innocent people in prison, but you seem to like him OK. Granted you both intensely dislike the same person, but he’s still an a-hole and principles aren’t malleable like that

    steveg (43b7a5)

  27. @20 As I said in another thread…

    It does seem improper for Barr to appoint Durham, however that regulation isn’t enforcible as it’s the AG’s call. Section 600.10 of the SCO regs, in Title 28 of the Code of Federal Regulations… in which that section explicitly provide that any failure by the DOJ to comply with their strict terms creates no enforceable rights or objections for any third party.

    Just as when acting-AG Rosenstein appointed Mueller to SCO, Mueller should not have been appointed because there was neither a strong factual basis for a criminal investigation, nor was there going to be a conflict that would have prevented the DOJ from investigating the matter in the normal course. Again, any objection to this was not enforcible as it’s literally the AG’s call.

    However, I’m not on board with Durham appointment as he shouldn’t have been appointed in the first place, due to the fact that it obviously violates the spirit of the DOJ regulations AND it’s used to try to handcuff the incoming administration. (an administration that I vehemently am against politically).

    whembly (a23745) — 12/2/2020 @ 9:19 am

    Option 1: Barr has a reasonable belief that Durham will find criminal wrongdoing and a reasonable belief the new administration will obstruct that.
    Option 2: Barr doesn’t expect Durham to file indictments about what he’s found and the SC regulation forces Durham to produce a report.
    Option 3: Barr is creating a political trap for the Biden administration.\

    Honestly, I’m not too worked up about this. I don’t think Durham will invent things and if he’s found wrong doing it should be prosecuted. If all he has is vague innuendo it’s not going to matter to people who aren’t already conspiracy theorists.

    Time123 (daab2f)

  28. If Trump wants to be Trumpy…not only he could pardon himself, his family, campaign officials and his current/past administration officials… AND he should pardon Hillary Clinton, Comey, Clinesmith, Stzrok, McCabe AND Joe Biden for any past or alleged crimes committed while in office.

    I am not a lawyer or legal expert of any sort, but can a president pardon someone for a crime that they haven’t been convicted of yet? How exactly would that work?

    Hoi Polloi (7cefeb)

  29. @27

    Option 4: Barr is patronizing Trump by appointing a Special Counsel Trump believes will cynically hamstring the new administration in the same way Trump believes he was cynically hamstrung, knowing all the while that Durham’s investigation will fizzle out shortly after the inauguration.

    (Not That) Bill O'Reilly (6bb12a)

  30. The Flynn pardon only applies to a limited number of possible offenses. It wasn’t made public initially but was after a court hearing asking for the case against him to be dismissed in which it was entered into the record.

    It basically applies to process crimes and the Turkey accusations.

    Sammy Finkelman (bbf750)

  31. Hoi Polloi (7cefeb) — 12/2/2020 @ 10:19 am

    but can a president pardon someone for a crime that they haven’t been convicted of yet? How exactly would that work?

    https://watergate.info/1974/09/08/text-of-ford-pardon-proclamation.html

    …I, GERALD R. FORD, President of the United States, pursuant to the pardon power conferred upon me by Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution, have granted and by these presents do grant a full, free, and absolute pardon unto Richard Nixon for all offenses against the United States which he, Richard Nixon, has committed or may have committed or taken part in during the period from January 20, 1969 through August 9, 1974.

    Sammy Finkelman (bbf750)

  32. It wasn’t good. He stopped the movie. It would have been better to wait for an indictment, if any.

    On January 21, 1977, Jimmy Carter pardoned all draft dodgers:

    https://www.justice.gov/pardon/proclamation-4483-granting-pardon-violations-selective-service-act

    I, Jimmy Carter, President of the United States, do hereby grant a full, complete and unconditional pardon to: (1) all persons who may have committed any offense between August 4, 1964 and March 28, 1973 in violation of the Military Selective Service Act or any rule or regulation promulgated thereunder; and (2) all persons heretofore convicted, irrespective of the date of conviction, of any offense committed between August 4, 1964 and March 28, 1973 in violation of the Military Selective Service Act, or any rule or regulation promulgated thereunder, restoring to them full political, civil and other rights.

    This pardon does not apply to the following who are specifically excluded therefrom:

    (1) All persons convicted of or who may have committed any offense in violation of the Military Selective Service Act, or any rule or regulation promulgated thereunder, involving force or violence; and

    (2) All persons convicted of or who may have committed any offense in violation of the Military Selective Service Act, or any rule or regulation promulgated thereunder, in connection with duties or responsibilities arising out of employment as agents, officers or employees of the Military Selective Service system.

    If there’s a question about either of these pardons, they never were litigated. So, in the words of the Clinton Administration, “there is no controlling legal authority.”

    Sammy Finkelman (bbf750)

  33. I am not a lawyer or legal expert of any sort, but can a president pardon someone for a crime that they haven’t been convicted of yet? How exactly would that work?

    Hoi Polloi (7cefeb) — 12/2/2020 @ 10:19 am

    Yes the prez can pardon at any time. President Nixon, of course, received a pardon, but had never been charged or convicted with a crime before or after that pardon.

    It can happen before the investigation happens, before anyone even knows the crime happened, before anything goes to trial, or after the conviction. He can also commute or repreive. The pardon has to come after the time of the crime.

    There is a US Pardon attorney that should review pardons. The president doesn’t have to subject these pardons to review. I think any pardon that involves someone who has given the president money, been closely affiliated with the president, or for his own family or self, should have to be approved by this attorney. Of course, Trump failed to get his pardon attorney confirmed by congress and it’s one of these ‘acting’ appointments. So true oversight is completely avoided at every turn.

    Dustin (4237e0)

  34. To An Orange

    Wee, timorous, cowering fruit,
    That Joe Biden’s such a brute:
    He’d fain chase ye,
    From the White House,
    With a mail-in plebiscite,
    The louse.

    I am not sorry that Dominion
    Will choose the leader of the Union,
    An’ whatever may be your opinion,
    By the colour of thy rind,
    Ye’ll be out on your behind!

    Orange, thou must face the facts,
    Thou art going out on your fat ass:
    The best laid schemes o’ sewer rats
    Gang aft agley,
    For ye cannot gaslight all of the people,
    All of the time!

    [With apologies to Robert Burns.]

    nk (1d9030)

  35. RIP Rafer Johnson (86).

    Rip Murdock (74ef5d)


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