The Justice Department is investigating an alleged criminal lobbying scheme and a related bribery conspiracy scheme involving payment of people in or related to the White House, in exchange for receiving a presidential pardon, court documents unsealed on Tuesday show.
Court records (pdf) ordered unsealed by Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, feature a court opinion by the same judge entered on Aug. 28.
According to the opinion, two individuals, whose names are redacted, “acted as lobbyists to senior White House officials without complying with the registration requirement of the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) … to secure ‘a pardon or reprieve of sentence’ for “a person whose name is also redacted. The order referred to this as the “LDA scheme.”
It also mentions a related alleged bribery conspiracy scheme, also referred to as a “bribery-for-pardon scheme,” where “[redacted] would offer a substantial political contribution in exchange for a presidential pardon or reprieve of sentence for [redacted].”
Howell’s order said that email communications between certain individuals in connection with the alleged LDA scheme or “bribery-for-pardon” scheme are not covered by attorney-client or other privilege and thus can be reviewed by investigators.
“To the extent that the filter team encounters any communications between [redacted] and [redacted] or [redacted], to which [redacted] is not a participant or recipient, that appear to implicate legal advice or representation unrelated to the alleged schemes and crimes described … they shall be withheld from the investigative team and protected accordingly as required by law,” the order on Aug. 28 read.
The partial unsealing order on Dec. 1 said that the government had requested on Nov. 25 that the court keep Howell’s opinion sealed, saying that it “identifies both individuals and conduct that have not been charged by the grand jury.”
The court sought an explanation from the government to explain why the entirety of the document “even with redaction of names and persons who have not been publicly charged, must remain under seal,” after which the government sent on Nov. 30 a partially redacted version that may be unsealed.
The document is heavily redacted and does not reveal any names of individuals involved or affected.
President Donald Trump called the investigation “Fake News!” in a post on Twitter.
The White House and the Department of Justice did not respond to requests for comment from The Epoch Times.