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Monday, 18 January 2021

'Rudy wants $2m to get you a pardon.' Ex-CIA leaker reveals he went to FBI after offer from Giuliani associate during booze-fueled meeting at Trump hotel – as lobbyists cash in on possible pardon spree

 Rudy Giuliani has peddled that $2 million could buy people pardons from Donald Trump, a new report revealed Sunday as concerns grow the president could use his last days to issue a slew of clemencies.

According to several documents reviewed by The New York Times and interviews with more than three dozen lobbyists and lawyers, many of Trump's allies have cashed in considerably by charging fees to sway the president to issue pardons.

In one document, a former top adviser to Trump's campaign agreed to receive a payout of $50,000 if he could sway the president to pardon John Kirakou, a former CIA officer convicted of disclosing classified information.

Separately, Rudy Giuliani's associate told Kiriakou over drinks at Trump Hotel in Washington D.C. last year that if he paid Trump's personal attorney $2 million, he would use his sway as one of the president's closest advisers to secure him the pardon. 

Although Kiriakou did not accept the offer, an associate alerted the FBI to Giuliani potentially illegally selling pardons – but the former New York City mayor and Trump's personal attorney has challenged this characterization.

Giuliani has come under fire recently for firing up a crowd of thousands of Trump supporters, telling them to engage in 'trial by combat', before they marched over to the U.S. Capitol and stormed the building to delay Congress from certifying the election for Joe Biden.

Recently reports also reveal Giuliani has fallen out of favor with the president in his failed legal attempts to challenge the election results.

Former Trump campaign adviser Karen Giorno, who ran his Florida primary campaign in the 2016 election, had access to people around the president. She met with Kiriakou in 2018 along with Trump's former director of advance, Georgie Gigicos.

Kirikou detailed that during a booze-filled meeting a Trump International Hotel in Washington D.C. last year with Giuliani, his associate said he would use his pull with Trump to secure a pardon but said: '[I]t's going to cost $2 million — he's going to want two million bucks'

Kirikou detailed that during a booze-filled meeting a Trump International Hotel in Washington D.C. last year with Giuliani, his associate said he would use his pull with Trump to secure a pardon but said: '[I]t's going to cost $2 million — he's going to want two million bucks'

Kiriakou pleaded guilty in 2012 to illegally disclosing the name of a CIA officer involved in waterboarding an American detainee and was sentenced to 30 months in prison. Kiriakou said he was told he should seek a pardon so he could carry a handgun and receive his pension.

'I wanted to believe them,' Kiriakou told the Times when describing that Giorno and Gigicos said they had direct lines to the president and promised him a pardon.

Giorno signed an agreement with Kiriakou in July 2018 that he would pay them $50,000 'to seek a full pardon from President Donald Trump of his conviction'. In the document reviewed by the Times, Kiriakou promised another $50,000 as a bonus if a pardon was secured.

Kiriakou said that in 2020, during his quest for a pardon, he had a meeting with Giuliani for drinks at Trump International Hotel in the nation's capital. He disclosed that during the meeting a substantial amount of alcohol was consumed.

When Giuliani took a bathroom break, one of the attorney's confidants suggested Giuliani could help.

'[I]t's going to cost $2 million — he's going to want two million bucks,' Kiriakou recalled the associate saying.

He detailed the interaction with the Times, claiming: 'I laughed. Two million bucks — are you out of your mind?' Mr. Kiriakou said. 'Even if I had two million bucks, I wouldn't spend it to recover a $700,000 pension.'

Kiriakou did not pursue the arrangement.

He did, however, share the story during a party last year where a former air marshal Robert MacLean was present and alarmed by the idea of Giuliani selling pardons.

MacLean filed a report with the FBI claiming he 'felt duty-bound to report it.'

One lobbyist who has been advising the Trump White House on pardons and commutations has also been able to monetize his work. 

Brett Tolman has collected tens of thousands of dollars, maybe more, to push for the White House to issue clemency for at least three different people – the son of a former Arkansas senator, the founder of online drug marketplace Silk Road and another who pleaded guilty to a fraud scheme.

'The criminal justice system is badly broken, badly flawed,' former Republican Arkansas Senator Tim Hutchinson, 71, who served in Congress from 1993 to 2003, said.

Huchinson has paid Tolman at least $10,000 to lobby the White House and Congress over the last year for a pardon for his son Jeremy.

The younger Huchinson served as a state legislator in Arkansas and in 2019 pleaded guilty to tax fraud and accepting bribes.

Trump's former personal lawyer John Dowd has also raked in cash for his ability to leverage his close relationship with the president into a way of securing pardons.

Dowd has accepted tens of thousands from several clients, including a wealthy felon.

After leaving Trump's legal team, Dowd started representing a wealthy sports gambler in Las Vegas convicted of insider trading, William T. Walters. The Times notes that Dowd told Walters, among other clients, that he would be able to obtain a pardon using his connections to Trump.

Former Trump lawyer John Dowd
Lobbyist Brett Tolman

Trump's former personal lawyer John Dowd (left) and lobbyist Brett Tolman (right), who has been advising the Trump White House on pardons and commutations, have also both seemed to monetize off their promises to secure pardons for their clinets

Walters paid Dowd tens of thousands of dollars even though a pardon has yet been issued.

Matt Schlapp, a lobbyist very close to Trump, has spent weeks lobbying for a pardon for Parker Petit.

Petit is a major Republican donor who served as the finance chairman of Trump's 2016 campaign in Georgia – he was convicted of securities fraud in November.

Trump has issued a number of clemencies and commutations during his presidency – including for Alice Johnson, who was given a life sentence for a first time drug offense and who Kim Kardashian lobbied to have her sentence commutated.

Democrats are concerned that in the three days before Trump leaves office, he could take the unprecedented step of pardoning himself, as well as preemptively pardoning Giuliani, his children and son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Aides have warned the president against pursuing this action, claiming it could anger and inflame those who are already investigating the president and his circle.

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