Justice Department investigating 'bribery conspiracy scheme' involving presidential pardon, documents show

The documents go on to describe their actions as a "bribery for pardon scheme".

The fight over the communications revolved around whether the emails were covered by attorney-client privilege, which would shield them from the government.

The U.S. Justice Department is investigating a potential crime related to funneling money to the White House in exchange for a presidential pardon, according to court documents unsealed in federal court.

At least two people, whose names were redacted, are suspected of being involved in an illegal "secret lobbying scheme" to secure a pardon for a third party whose name was also redacted.

The filing indicates that the lobbyists and lawyers contacted White House officials requesting a presidential pardon or reprieve, citing the "past substantial campaign contributions" and "anticipated future substantial political contributions" from a donor.

An unnamed DOJ official did tell Fox News that "no government official was or is now a subject or target of the investigation in this filing". In an update to the court November 25, the Justice Department asked to keep the ruling secret because it "identifies both individuals and conduct that have not been charged by the grand jury".

The judge said that the communications could be reviewed by investigators because the emails included someone who is not an attorney.

"The attorney-client privilege applies only when the participants in the communication are the client and the client's attorney, who is a 'member of the bar, ' " Howell wrote.

The decision means prosecutors can use the materials to confront the subjects of the investigation.

But the filing was revealed amid speculation that, with six weeks left in the White House after losing the November 3 election, President Donald Trump is preparing to grant executive clemency to more people, after pardoning his former national security advisor Michael Flynn last Wednesday.

"On November 25, 2020, the government submitted a status report requesting that the Court "maintain the Memorandum Opinion under seal, ' because it 'identifies both individuals and conduct that have not been charged by the grand jury, '" she noted, quoting prosecutors".

According to federal court documents, which were first obtained by CNN, over 50 digital devices, including iPhones, iPads, laptops, thumb drives, and computer drives, were seized via search warrants as part of the government's bribery-for-pardon investigation.

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