March 2, 2021 20:30

White House Clemency Probe Involved CA Tax Case

The Justice Department investigated the roles of Elliott Broidy, a top fund-raiser for President Donald Trump, and a lawyer for his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, in a suspected scheme to offer a bribe in exchange for clemency for a tax crime convict, the New York Times reports. A federal judge unsealed heavily redacted court documents on Tuesday that disclosed the existence of the investigation into possible unregistered lobbying and bribery. Sources said it concerned efforts by the lawyer for Kushner, Abbe Lowell, and Broidy, who pleaded guilty in October to a charge related to a different scheme to lobby the Trump administration.

A billionaire California real estate developer, Sanford Diller, enlisted their help in securing clemency for a Berkeley psychologist, Hugh Baras, who had received a 30-month prison sentence on a conviction of tax evasion and improperly claiming Social Security benefits. Under the suspected scheme, Diller would make “a substantial political contribution” to an unspecified recipient in exchange for the pardon. He died in 2018, and there is no evidence that the effort continued after his death. As part of the effort, someone approached the White House Counsel’s Office to “ensure” that the “clemency petition reached the targeted officials,” according to court documents. Baras did not receive clemency. No bribe was paid. Baras went to prison in 2017 and was released in 2019. No one has been charged in the inquiry. This summer, investigators sought communications related to the scheme to “confront” the people they were scrutinizing.

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