A new lawsuit from a woman who says she worked for Rudy Giuliani during Donald Trump’s presidency contains a series of shocking claims, chief among them sexual assault and harassment by Trump’s then-personal lawyer, which Giuliani has denied. But Noelle Dunphy’s civil complaint, filed Monday in New York state court, also contains an entirely different type of shocking claim: that Giuliani was offering to sell pardons for $2 million, which, according to Dunphy’s suit, he said he would split with Trump.
Giuliani has broadly denied Dunphy’s allegations. But if true, the pardon claim would support the existence of a bribery conspiracy implicating Trump, the 2024 Republican presidential front-runner, who is currently indicted in New York state and faces other criminal probes in Georgia and by the Justice Department. (A spokesperson for Trump’s 2024 campaign did not immediately respond to NBC News’ request for comment.)
Here’s exactly what Dunphy alleges regarding pardons, in Paragraph 132 of her nearly 70-page complaint:
[Giuliani] also asked Ms. Dunphy if she knew anyone in need of a pardon, telling her that he was selling pardons for $2 million, which he and President Trump would split. He told Ms. Dunphy that she could refer individuals seeking pardons to him, so long as they did not go through “the normal channels” of the Office of the Pardon Attorney, because correspondence going to that office would be subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.
Dunphy’s lawyer told MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell on Monday night that there isn’t a recording of the pardon conversation that they know of. But the lawyer, Justin Kelton, said he and his client expect it to be corroborated, asserting that Giuliani associate Lev Parnas was present.
To be sure, this isn’t the first time we’re hearing about a possible Trump clemency-for-profit scheme, even down to the $2 million price tag.
In 2021, The New York Times reported that a former CIA officer convicted of illegally disclosing classified information who sought a pardon, John Kiriakou, was told that Giuliani “could help him secure a pardon for $2 million.” The Times further reported that Kiriakou “rejected the offer, but an associate, fearing that Mr. Giuliani was illegally selling pardons, alerted the F.B.I.” (The Times reported at the time that Giuliani challenged the characterization of events.)
It’s true that the line between lobbying and crime can seem blurry, as made clear by that Times report, which noted a “lucrative market for pardons” in the waning days of Trump’s presidency, “with some of his allies collecting fees from wealthy felons or their associates to push the White House for clemency, according to documents and interviews with more than three dozen lobbyists and lawyers.”
But under federal law, delivering clemency for profit would likely cross the line into criminal territory.
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