The Guardian

Giuliani associate told ex-CIA officer a Trump pardon would ‘cost $2m’ – report

John Kiriakou, who was jailed in 2012 for identity leak, said his pursuit of a pardon came up in a meeting with Giuliani last yearUS politics – live coverage Rudy Giuliani reportedly rejected Kiriakou’s version of events and said he did not work as a pardon broker because he already represented Trump. Photograph: Jeff Kowalsky/AFP/Getty Images An associate of Rudy Giuliani told a former CIA officer a presidential pardon was “going to cost $2m”, the New York Times reported on Sunday in the latest bombshell to break across the last, chaotic days of Donald Trump’s presidency. The report detailed widespread and in some cases lucrative lobbying involving people seeking a pardon as Trump’s time in office winds down. The 45th president, impeached twice, will leave power on Wednesday with the inauguration of Joe Biden. The former CIA officer John Kiriakou, who was jailed in 2012 for leaking the identity of an operative involved in torture, told the Times he laughed at the remark from the associate of Giuliani, the former New York mayor who as Trump’s personal attorney is reportedly a possible pardon recipient himself. “Two million bucks – are you out of your mind?” Kiriakou reportedly said. “Even if I had two million bucks, I wouldn’t spend it to recover a $700,000 pension.” An associate of Kiriakou reported the conversation to the FBI, the Times said. Meant to reward offenders who show contrition, presidential pardons do not imply innocence. Presidents often use them to reward allies but Trump has taken the practice to extremes. Among recent recipients of pardons or acts of clemency are Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about contacts with Russia; the political dirty trickster Roger Stone, who did not turn on Trump during the Russia investigation in which he was convicted of obstructing Congress; Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager convicted in the Russia investigation; and Charles Kushner, father of Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner who was convicted of tax fraud and witness retaliation. The Times report detailed an “ad hoc” White House system for approving pardons which it said was run by the younger Kushner, bypassing the usual “intensive justice department review process intended to identify and vet the most deserving recipients from among thousands of clemency applications”. The report also identified lobbyists it said were seeking pardons on behalf of fee-paying clients. It is not illegal to do so. Margaret Love, who was the United States pardon attorney at the Department of Justice for seven years, told the paper: “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.” Trump will lose legal protection once he leaves office and faces threats both potential and already in train. He has reportedly discussed issuing pre-emptive pardons to himself, Kushner, Giuliani and other family members and close aides. It is not clear whether a self-pardon would work. Pardons issued as the president leaves the White House are not uncommon. Infamously, Bill Clinton pardoned the fugitive financier Marc Rich on his last day as president in 2001. Kiriakou told the Times his pursuit of a pardon came up during a meeting with Giuliani on another subject, at the Trump International Hotel in Washington last year. During the meeting, which reportedly “involved substantial alcohol”, Giuliani went to the bathroom. It was then, Kiriakou said, that Giuliani’s unnamed associate told him: “It’s going to cost $2m – he’s going to want two million bucks.” The Times said Giuliani rejected Kiriakou’s version of events and said he did not work as a pardon broker because he already represented Trump. “It’s like a conflict of interest,” he was quoted as saying, adding that though he had heard large fees were being offered for pardons, “I have enough money. I’m not starving.” It was reported this week that Trump, angry with Giuliani over the failure of almost all lawsuits mounted against election results, had told staff not to pay his legal fees. Ken Frydman, Giuliani’s press secretary in the 1990s, said: “Lay down with dogs. Wake up with fleas and without $20,000 a day.”



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