May 22, 2023


Why was this massive Trump scandal hiding in plain sight for 28 months?A shocking allegation that then-President Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani was selling pardons for $2 million got lost. Why it matters now. (Will Bunch, May 21, 2023, Philadelphia Inquirer)

[T]rump had to race through some important unfinished business before the clock struck noon on Jan. 20, Biden's inauguration day. The night before, the ongoing president issued a whopping 144 pardons and commutations as he wielded one of his few utterly unchecked powers granted in the U.S. Constitution. Indeed, looking just at pardons, Trump issued 116 of just 143 during his four years in office in his final month, January 2021.

To the very end, Trump ignored the practices of past presidents -- who'd worked mostly off petitions that had been investigated by the Justice Department's Office of the Pardon Attorney -- and granted clemency largely for connected folks that he tended to know, from close cronies like Roger Stone and Steve Bannon to his reality-TV pal Rod Blagojevich, the disgraced Illinois governor, to his son-in-law's dad, Charles Kushner. Then there was an additional category: those who'd paid good money to Trump World insiders to plead their case.

On Jan. 17, 2021, the New York Times published an article headlined: "Prospect of Pardons in Final Days Fuels Market to Buy Access to Trump." Based on more than three dozen interviews with key players, the Times confirmed that wealthy convicted felons were paying tens of thousands of dollars to insiders like a former Trump personal attorney, John Dowd, in the rush to gain clemency. To be clear, hiring a lawyer promising special access -- while perhaps unseemly -- is not new and probably not unlawful. But a Times passage about convicted ex-CIA leaker John Kiriakou, who paid an unnamed Trump associate $50,000 with a contingent promise of $50,000 more if a pardon was granted, included a jaw-dropping if unproven allegation:

"And Mr. Kiriakou was separately told that Mr. Trump's personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani could help him secure a pardon for $2 million. Mr. Kiriakou rejected the offer, but an associate, fearing that Mr. Giuliani was illegally selling pardons, alerted the F.B.I. Mr. Giuliani challenged this characterization."

Posted by at May 22, 2023 12:00 AM