Trump allies raking in tens of thousands of dollars from wealthy felons seeking pardons: NYT

According to a report from the New York Times, close associates of Donald Trump have been raking in tens of thousands of dollars from wealthy felons seeking a presidential pardon before the president steps down next week.

In his waning weeks in office, the president has been pardoning close associates who were either facing criminal charges tied to his 2016 election or were already serving time.

According to the latest report from the NYT's Michael Schmidt and Jonathan Vogel, based on documents and interviews with more than three dozen lobbyists and attorneys, the market for pardons has increased ever since it became apparent the president would be leaving office.

"The pardon lobbying heated up as it became clear that Mr. Trump had no recourse for challenging his election defeat, lobbyists and lawyers say," the report states. "One lobbyist, Brett Tolman, a former federal prosecutor who has been advising the White House on pardons and commutations, has monetized his clemency work, collecting tens of thousands of dollars, and possibly more, in recent weeks to lobby the White House for clemency for the son of a former Arkansas senator; the founder of the notorious online drug marketplace Silk Road; and a Manhattan socialite who pleaded guilty in a fraud scheme."

The report also notes that Trump's former personal attorney, John Dowd has been "marketing" himself to potential clients seeking pardons and that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani also has been implicated.

"A onetime top adviser to the Trump campaign was paid $50,000 to help seek a pardon for John Kiriakou, a former C.I.A. officer convicted of illegally disclosing classified information, and agreed to a $50,000 bonus if the president granted it, according to a copy of an agreement," the Times is reporting. "And Mr. Kiriakou was separately told that Mr. Trump's personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani could help him secure a pardon for $2 million. Mr. Kiriakou rejected the offer, but an associate, fearing that Mr. Giuliani was illegally selling pardons, alerted the F.B.I. Mr. Giuliani challenged this characterization."

According to Margaret Love, who worked on clemency issues in the Justice Department from 1990 until 1997, "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."

The Times reported that the White House had no comment when asked about the allegations.

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