President Donald Trump’s plan to pardon dozens of people in his final days in office has fueled a lucrative lobbying frenzy for many of the president’s allies, according to The New York Times.
Some lobbyists and lawyers have racked up massive fees lobbying the administration for clemency for their clients, according to the report.
Trump’s former lawyer John Dowd has taken tens of thousands of dollars while marketing himself as someone who could help them secure pardons from his former client.
Former Trump campaign adviser Karen Giorno has earned tens of thousands from John Kiriakou, a former CIA officer convicted of illegally disclosing classified information, and stands to earn another $50,000 if she secures a pardon.
Former Sen. Tim Hutchinson has paid former federal prosecutor Brett Tolman $10,000 to lobby for a pardon for his son, a former Arkansas state lawmaker who pleaded guilty to accepting bribes and tax fraud.
Tolman has also been paid by Dina Wein Reis, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in 2011, and Brian Anderson, an Arizona man who is seeking clemency for Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht.
Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani has also floated the prospect of securing pardons for clients. An associate told Kiriakou that Giuliani could help but “it’s going to cost $2 million.”
Kiriakou turned him down but told a friend about the incident, who then reported it to the FBI.
Giuliani denied the report.
“It’s like a conflict of interest,” Giuliani said. “I have enough money. I’m not starving.”
Legal experts criticize:
Trump has shunned the traditional Justice Department review process for clemency that is “intended to identify and vet the most deserving recipients from among thousands of clemency applications,” according to the report.
Instead he has created an “ad hoc system in the White House that Mr. Kushner has had significant influence over and has relied on input from an informal network of outside advisers, including Mr. Tolman. That system favors pardon seekers who have connections to Mr. Trump or his team, or who pay someone who does, said pardon lawyers who have worked for years through the Justice Department system.”
“This kind of off-books influence peddling, 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,” Margaret Love, who was the Justice Department pardon attorney in the 90s, told the Times.
Trump plans over 100 pardons:
Trump is planning over 100 pardons in his final days in office, according to the Washington Post.
Trump has met with advisers extensively in recent days to discuss his list and has been “particularly consumed with the question of whether to issue preemptive pardons to his adult children, top aides and himself.” It’s unclear if he will follow through, or if he will grant pardons to close allies like Steve Bannon or Rudy Giuliani.
Though sources told the outlet Trump’s pardons will be “uncontroversial,” Trump has said he wants to be “liberal” with his pardons.