In hindsight, this seems obvious.
CNN first reported overnight that the Department of Justice is investigating a scheme to essentially buy presidential pardons and commutations of prison sentences by making campaign contributions. The investigation is evidently ongoing according to court records unsealed and redacted in Washington.
The disclosure is in 20 pages of partially redacted documents made public by the DC District Court on Tuesday afternoon. The records show Chief Judge Beryl Howell's review in August of a request from prosecutors to access documents obtained in a search as part of a bribery-for-pardon investigation.
The filings don't reveal a timeline of the alleged scheme, or any names of people potentially involved, except that communications between people including at least one lawyer were seized from an office that was raided sometime before the end of this summer.
More from the Associated Press:
Most of the information in the 18-page court order is redacted, including the identity of the people whom prosecutors are investigating and whom the proposed pardon might be intended for.
But the document from August does reveal that certain individuals are suspected of having acted to secretly lobby White House officials to secure a pardon or sentence commutation and that, in a related scheme, a substantial political contribution was floated in exchange for a pardon or “reprieve of sentence.”
Although it obviously should have, it honestly never occurred to me that either Trump himself or someone close to him would try to sell (may have already sold?) pardons.
In my defense, that is not something anyone would have to ponder under a normal presidential administration, but Trump is not normal.
Trump's pardon of his former national security adviser Michael Flynn was bad, but I feel like we haven't seen the worst yet. I expect Trump will pardon his crazy brother Rudy and maybe even his own children. He may even try to pardon himself.
I expect he will do these things over the Christmas holiday to limit public backlash.