The Department of Justice (DOJ) is looking into a potential crime of bribery in the White House, new court documents show.
In the last several days, several top advisors have been convicted of federal criminal charges, the news outlet reported, and the investigation is determining the extent to which those loyal to Donald Trump are going to get pardoned.
The 20 pages of court documents were unsealed Tuesday (December 1) by the DC District court. It marks the latest legal battle Trump faces as he exits the presidency.
In the partially redacted documents is Chief Judge Beryl Howell’s August review of a request made by prosecutors to gain access to documents in a bribery investigation.
So far, the documents do not provide a clear timeline of events in the alleged scheme or names of anyone potentially involved. There is, however, a document with communications between at least one lawyer and others that was seized during an office raid right before summer ended.
CNN previously reported that Trump’s associates are attempting to get pardons from him before he leaves office. It’s not clear if any of these associates are currently being investigated by the Justice Department.
An official with the Justice Department told CNN, “no government official was or is currently a subject or target of the investigation disclosed in this filing.”
The documents also reveal that more than 50 digital devices including phones, tablets, hard drives, and computers were seized during a raid of several offices.
Prosecutors asked the court for permission to examine the devices, believing they hold emails that would further uncover a bribery conspiracy. Emails between attorneys and clients are usually protected under attorney-client privilege, unless there’s a discussion of a crime.
Howell granted the prosecutors access saying, “The political strategy to obtain a presidential pardon was ‘parallel’ to and distinct from [redacted]’s role as an attorney-advocate for [redacted name].”
The documents state the investigation involves people acting as unregistered “lobbyists to senior White House Officials” who were seeking a presidential pardon by using a third party to make a bribe.
At that time, prosecutors did not provide evidence of a direct payment, but stated the person was seeking the pardon because of political contributions made in the past.
The Justice Department reportedly told Howell it wants to keep any documents confidential because “individuals and conduct” weren’t being charged yet.
In his presidency, Trump granted 29 pardons and commuted 16 sentences, according to the US Pardon Attorney’s office. Last week, Trump pardoned his former national security adviser Michael Flynn for lying in an FBI investigation.
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