Trump Calls DOJ 'Bribery for Pardon' Probe 'Fake News' As Schiff Suggests He Could Face Criminal Charges

Democrat House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff said that President Donald Trump could be prosecuted in a Department of Justice probe that alleges pardons were potentially given in exchange for campaign donations.

Heavily redacted court documents unsealed Tuesday showed that the DOJ was investigating a "bribery conspiracy scheme" in which an unnamed individual or entity "would offer a substantial political contribution in exchange for a presidential pardon or reprieve of sentence." The court documents were originally obtained and posted online by CNN. Because of the redactions, names were not revealed. It was not immediately known if President Donald Trump was connected with the investigation.

Trump decried news of the probe on Tuesday, tweeting, "Pardon investigation is Fake News!"

Pardon investigation is Fake News!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 2, 2020

According to the court papers, the investigation centers around two individuals who "acted as lobbyists to senior White House officials, without complying with the registration requirement of the Lobbying Disclosure Act." The purported lobbyists attempted to secure a "presidential pardon or reprieve of sentence" for an unnamed person in exchange for a sizable political donation.

Schiff said that if Trump were connected to the scheme, he could be subject to criminal charges. "If the president was involved, he would not be immune to prosecution for it," Schiff said in a Tuesday appearance on MSNBC. "It should be clear under existing law."

adam schiff
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff said Tuesday that if President Donald Trump were involved in an alleged bribery scheme, Trump could face prosecution. Senate Television/Getty

Although Schiff emphasized that the individuals involved "may be someone that we've never heard of," he implied that the investigation may revolve around powerful figures."

"Someone in this conspiracy has to have a close enough relationship to the president or people around the president to make it happen," Schiff said. "You're not gonna pay a bribe to someone who has no relationship to the party that has the power to give the pardon."

Some observers have attempted to link Trump with the lawsuit, noting the number of high-profile pardons he has granted during his administration. According to Reuters, an official from the DOJ said that no government official was being targeted by the investigation. Newsweek reached out to the Department of Justice for further comment.

Public information from the DOJ shows that Trump has only granted 29 pardons during his time in the White House. In comparison, former President George H.W. Bush, who served one term between 1989 and 1993, granted 74 pardons.

On Wednesday, Trump announced a full pardon for General Michael Flynn. Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in 2017 in connection with the Mueller probe. Trump's pardon cleared Flynn of "any and all possible offenses" connected with the charges.