Washington (AP) – Bribes for Possible Pardon by US President? Shortly before the end of President Donald Trump’s tenure, the US judiciary is investigating a case involving this suspicion.
Who could be involved in the possible crime is not clear from the 20-page court document released by a federal court in the capital Washington on Tuesday (local time). Names and large parts of the document are blackened. Trump wrote on Twitter that the investigation was ‘fake news’.
No charges have yet been filed in the case. The US president has nearly unlimited powers to grant pardons at the federal level under the constitution.
In the now partially published document at the end of August, federal judge Beryl A. Howell ruled, among other things, that more than 50 seized digital storage media are not covered by a lawyer’s protected communications with his clients. The researchers are allowed to evaluate these storage media – including smartphones, laptops and USB sticks – and confront the defendant with the results. The researchers suspect an intrigue based on the principle of “bribery for grace”.
Republican Trump was able to pardon several people before his term ends on January 20. Former presidents such as Democrat Barack Obama took advantage of this up to the last day.
The “New York Times” reported Tuesday (local time) that Trump had spoken to advisers about “a precautionary pardon” for his three oldest children, Donald Trump Junior, Eric and Ivanka Trump, and his son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner. Trump had expressed concern to his advisers that the Justice Department might “retaliate” under future US President Joe Biden. Biden recently said that, unlike Trump, he would not use the Justice Department to investigate his political opponent. US media also reported that Trump had spoken to his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani about his pardon.
Last week, Trump forgave his former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, exposing himself to abuse of power. Retired General Flynn was embroiled in the affair of Russian influence during the 2016 US presidential election.
Flynn had served as a National Security Advisor in the White House for just a little over three weeks in 2017. He later admitted in the course of the investigation into the Russia affair that he lied to the federal police’s FBI. He also allegedly lied to Vice President Mike Pence. Flynn pleaded guilty to the investigation by FBI special investigator Robert Mueller.
In January, Flynn decided to withdraw his confession, shortly before a verdict was expected. In May, in a highly unusual step, the Justice Department called for the proceedings to be terminated. It was not convinced that Flynn’s January 2017 hearing was based on a legitimate investigation, it said among other things. Trump then praised Flynn as a “hero.”
The case was stuck in federal court following the controversial advance of the Justice Department. The judge responsible had not agreed to drop the allegations against Flynn.
After being voted out of office, Trump is president with full rights until January 20 – and there are still some convicts among his allies who can hope for his intervention. These include his advisers to the 2016 election campaign, Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos, who, like Flynn, had been convicted of investigating Russia. Washington also speculates that Trump may also be trying to pardon himself for possible violations of the law at the federal level.