DOJ investigating potential WH bribery-for-pardon scheme

In this Oct. 15, 2020, file photo U.S. Attorney General William Barr speaks during a roundtable discussion on Operation Legend in St. Louis.

Federal investigators are looking into a potential “bribery-for-pardon” scheme involving presidential pardons, according to federal court documents unsealed by the chief judge for the federal court in Washington.

The heavily redacted documents revealed Tuesday do not name the individuals involved or President Donald Trump. They also do not indicate if any White House officials had knowledge of the scheme.

“No government official was or is currently a subject or target of the investigation disclosed in this filing," a Justice Department official said.

The documents discuss whether prosecutors can review documents that may have been protected by attorney-client privilege and were seized as a result of a search warrant.

The opinion, entered by Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell on Aug. 28, is tied to an ongoing investigation that may involve at least two individuals who "acted as lobbyists to senior White House officials, without complying with the registration requirement of the Lobbying Disclosure Act … to secure ‘a pardon or reprieve of sentence for'" one individual whose name is redacted.

The investigation also involves an alleged offer by another individual to “offer a substantial political contribution in exchange for a presidential pardon or reprieve of sentence.”

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

"This political strategy to obtain a presidential pardon was 'parallel' to and distinct from" one individual's role as an attorney advocate for another individual, the ruling said, redacting both names.

The White House declined to comment, but Trump tweeted late Tuesday night, "Pardon investigation is Fake News!"



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Obama Says ‘Defund The Police’ Alienates Voters Drawing Sharp Rebuke From The Left

Barack Obama on 29 September 2019.

Progressive Democrats, including Ilhan Omar and Cori Bush, criticized the former president for painting defunding as little more than a divisive “slogan.”

Former President Barack Obama drew criticism from progressive Democrats this week for suggesting that “snappy” slogans like “defund the police” are alienating voters and making it harder from a political standpoint to enact “changes you want done.”

In an interview with Peter Hamby, who hosts the Snapchat political show “Good Luck America,” Obama said “you [lose] a big audience the minute” a slogan like “defund the police” is used, making “it a lot less likely that you’re actually going to get the changes you want done.”

“Defund the police” refers to the reallocation or redirection of government funding from police departments to social services for minority communities. As Rashawn Ray of the Brookings Institution noted, defunding does not mean the abolishment of police departments but instead “highlights fiscal responsibility” and “advocates for a market-driven approach to taxpayer money.”

Ben LaBolt, Obama’s former press secretary and communications strategist, shared part of Obama’s chat with Hamby online on Tuesday. The full interview will air at 6 a.m. EST Wednesday on Snapchat.

Obama’s remarks — particularly his use of the term “slogan” — were promptly lambasted by several progressive Democrats, including Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Kentucky state Rep. Charles Booker and Cori Bush, who made history last month when she became the first Black woman elected to represent Missouri in Congress.

“We didn’t lose Breonna because of a slogan,” said Booker, referring to Breonna Taylor, a Black woman who was shot dead in her own apartment by Louisville police in March. Booker broke barriers in 2018 when he became the youngest Black lawmaker elected to the Kentucky

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Trump has raised up to 170 million since Election Day Reports

President Donald Trump speaking during a news conference at the White House, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President Donald Trump has raised between $150 million and $170 million since Election Day amid ongoing appeals to supporters as part of his effort to undercut results of the race that saw him lose by millions of votes to President-elect Joe Biden, according to several media reports.

Both The Washington Post and The New York Times reported details of the massive haul, much of which was raised through small-dollar donations from the president’s ardent base in the week after the election.

But those appeals are based on misleading emails and text messages, and the Trump campaign has been using shady legal language buried in the solicitations that effectively gives the president broad power to use the money for a variety of purposes beyond fighting the outcome of the election. The fine print behind the fundraising says the first 75% of any donation goes to the Save America leadership political action committee, which Trump set up in mid-November, and the remaining 25% goes to the Republican Party’s operating expenses.

Any donor would have to give more than $5,000 before their mon

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Trump’s Rallies Didn’t Pay Off For Him At The Polls According To Data

President Donald Trump envisions a scene like this in Phoenix. Research has, however, linked his rallies to hundreds of COVID-19 deaths.

President Donald Trump’s largely maskless campaign rallies may have boosted the spread of COVID-19, but they didn’t serve Trump well at the polls,  according to a ballot analysis by NBC News.

In an overwhelming number of cases, Trump came up short of his 2016 victory margins in the counties where he held rallies in the two weeks before the election, NBC reported. In a significant number of cases, he either increased his negative margins or lost the counties to rival Joe Biden that he won the last time around.

Trump held 30 campaign rallies the final two weeks before the election in states from Arizona to Nebraska to Pennsylvania, NBC noted. Trump won larger victory margins than he did in 2016 in just five of the counties. In the rest, his negative margins grew and his positive margins shrunk, so much so that some counties flipped blue.

NBC cautioned that Trump may have done even worse in some cases without the rallies.

But the findings present a clear warning against gauging national, or even state, popularity based on rally turnouts, which tend to draw those who would vote for a candidate in any case. The rallies also represent a minuscule fraction of the vote.

Trump and his sons Eric and Donald Trump Jr. have repeatedly expressed astonishment that Trump lost the election, given the president’s campaign schedule and the enthusiasm of people attending his rallies.

Eric Trump is perplexed that anyone could believe the results, according to a tweet he posted Saturday. People responding informed him that rallies are not necessarily a reliable barometer of voter support and that votes and rally attendance are not the same.

What the rallies did accomplish was to increase COVID-19 infections, according to research from 

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