An aide to Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, told an ex-CIA officer seeking a presidential pardon that it would “cost $2 million,” The New York Times reported Sunday.
The revelation came as part of a wide-ranging Times report that describes how several people close to the president have collected large sums in exchange for helping people seek pardons.
John Kiriakou, the former CIA operative, was sentenced to 30 months in prison in 2012 for disclosing the identity of a fellow officer involved in waterboarding. Kiriakou told the Times he had sought a pardon through other people with connections to the president — in order to carry a handgun and access his pension — but the topic came up during an unrelated boozy meeting with Giuliani and his associates at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC.
When Giuliani went to the restroom during the meeting, one of his associates said Giuliani could help, but “it’s going to cost $2 million — he’s going to want two million bucks,” Kiriakou told the Times.
Kiriakou did not take them up on the offer, according to the Times.
“I laughed. Two million bucks — are you out of your mind?” Kiriakou told the outlet. “Even if I had two million bucks, I wouldn’t spend it to recover a $700,000 pension.”
A friend of Kiriakou’s reported the meeting to the FBI, disturbed that Giuliani may be selling presidential pardons, the Times reported. But Giuliani disputed the Times’ reporting, telling the outlet that he did not recall the meeting and that working on clemency cases while working as the president’s lawyer would constitute a conflict of interest.
The Times reported that multiple people with connections to Trump, including his former lawyer John Dowd and former campaign adviser Karen Giorno, had accepted tens of thousands of dollars in payments from people seeking pardons.
Presidents routinely embark on a pardoning frenzy as they prepare to leave office, but Trump, rarely one to follow norms, has caught heat for using pardons primarily to reward his allies, fellow Republican politicians, and people close to his family.
Trump has pardoned several people who were charged in connection to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. They include his former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, who was convicted of tax and bank fraud and was serving a 7 1/2 year prison sentence.
Roger Stone, a longtime Trump associate who was convicted of obstruction of justice, witness tampering, and lying to investigators in connection to the special counsel’s investigation, also received a pardon. Trump also pardoned Charles Kushner, the father of his son-in-law Jared Kushner, who pleaded guilty to charges including witness tampering and tax evasion, and served two years in prison.
Trump has also reportedly floated pardoning his family members, Giuliani, and himself.
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