The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating a potential crime involving bribery and presidential pardons, according to court documents unsealed Tuesday.
In the heavily redacted document released by the chief judge for the federal district including Washington, federal prosecutors were seeking access to the contents of digital devices seized during earlier raids on two unidentified offices.
The court's permission was needed because the contents of the devices included email conversations with a lawyer and may have been protected by attorney-client privilege. The prosecutors argued that that privilege was breached when the materials were shown to third parties.
The prosecutors told the court they expected to find evidence that unnamed individuals illegally "acted as lobbyists to senior White House officials ... to secure a pardon or reprieve of sentence'" for an unidentified individual.
The document also cites "a related bribery conspiracy scheme," in which an unidentified individual "would offer a substantial political contribution in exchange for a pardon or reprieve of sentence" for an unidentified individual.
The document indicates the prosecutors were given permission to access the devices. However there has been no public reporting to date to suggest anyone has been charged with a crime related to the investigation.
The document, dated Aug. 28, 2020, had been under seal until Tuesday, when the court released the heavily redacted version which concealed the names of all those under investigation.
The White House declined a VOA request for comment.