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”:
Pardon investigation is Fake News!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 2, 2020
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.
Freedom never kneels except for God 🙏🇺🇸https://t.co/Vrn3UeyDoF
— General Flynn (@GenFlynn) December 1, 2020
They are what we said they were.