By: Annie Priya
February 5 2021
There is no direct evidence that former president Trump was offered money in exchange for a pardon but his close aides were paid to lobby for clemency
There is no direct evidence that former president Trump was offered money in exchange for a pardon but his close aides were paid to lobby for clemencyIn his last few days as the President, Donald Trump pardoned dozens of people. On January 17, The New York Times reported that many of Trump's close aides made money off these pardons, according to documents and interviews with more than three dozen lobbyists and lawyers. Then, Axios later reported that "at least ten federal criminals had hired lobbyists since the November election to try to secure a pardon before Trump left the White House". Lobbyists focused their efforts on the White House rather than the Justice Department, as is usually how official bids for pardons are handled. However, it is important to note that there is nothing illegal about getting paid to lobby for a pardon. Moreover, there’s no evidence anyone has offered to pay Trump directly, which could be considered bribery. The Times report names many people involved in this process, including an associate of Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, who told John Kiriakou, a former C.I.A. officer, that Giuliani could help get a pardon, but it would cost $2 million. “I laughed. Two million bucks—are you out of your mind?” Kiriakou said. “Even if I had two million bucks, I wouldn’t spend it to recover a $700,000 pension.” Giuliani denies that ever happened. Even though there was nothing illegal about this, experts look down upon such favors. “This kind of off-books influence peddling, the special-privilege system denies consideration to the hundreds of ordinary people who have obediently lined up as required by Justice Department rules, and is a basic violation of the longstanding effort to make this process at least look fair,” said Margaret Love, who ran the Justice Department’s clemency process from 1990 until 1997 as the United States pardon attorney. While there is no evidence that Trump was directly involved in this or took any kind of payment in return for a pardon, it seems like Trump's associates were paid to lobby for clemency, which is considered unethical, though not illegal.