‘He’s treated pardons like party favors’: NYT reporter explains DOJ investigation into latest Trump bribery scheme
President Trump with eyes closed as he reflects on a statement about the success of the Farmers to Families Food Box feeding program. (Jeffery Edwards / Shutterstock.com)

The Justice Department investigated a suspected bribery scheme involving President Donald Trump, a wealthy Republican donor and a pardon.

New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt revealed the scheme outlined in heavily redacted court documents unsealed this week, and he told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" how real estate developer Sanford Diller offered to make a "substantial" donation to an unspecified recipient if the president agreed to pardon psychologist Hugh Baras on tax evasion.

"None of this was in the materials that came out on Tuesday," Schmidt said, "and the simple fact that the Justice Department was investigating this just raises all new questions about the pardon process going on at the White House, and that's because the president has on process and what he's done, he has treated pardons like party favors or gifts for friends, and in doing that has opened up the door to certainly, you know, allow the public to wonder what's really going on here and how are you using your pardon power?"

According to the report, Diller enlisted Jared Kushner's attorney Abbe Lowell and Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy in his pardon scheme, which ended when Diller died in 2018.

Baras served two years in prison and was released last year, and Broidy pleaded guilty in October to a charge related to a separate scheme to lobby the Trump administration.