Rick Gates or Lev Parnas could be the mystery individual at the center of the Department of Justice investigation into two lobbyists who allegedly offered "a substantial political contribution in exchange for a presidential pardon or reprieve." That is not based on information from investigators or the White House, but rather the redactions in the document, which was unsealed on Tuesday, December 1, in D.C. District Court.
In a copy of that document obtained by OK!, there are two instances where the name of the individual who sought the pardon is redacted, but then followed by an unredacted apostrophe. That, and the length of the redaction, suggest that the person at the center of this alleged scandal has a last name that contains six letter or less and ends with an "s." Two men who fit that bill are Gates and Parnas.
The Justice Department has stated only that “no government official was or is currently a subject or target of the investigation disclosed in this filing." The question at hand meanwhile is whether or not prosecutors are allowed to examine communications possibly protected under attorney-client privilege if seized as evidence during a search. In this case, the individuals involved "acted as lobbyists to senior White House officials, without complying with the registration requirement." Those individuals did this with the hopes of securing "a pardon or reprieve of sentence" for that mystery individual.
The judge in the case ruled that prosecutors were free to examine those communications because they were not strictly between the client and his attorney but also a third party who had no legal standing. That rulingw as made back in August and it appears the case originates in Eastern District of Pennsylvania, where it was opened and closed on the same day in January during the initial grand jury hearing.
Rick Gates - a former aide to President Trump who was exposed by special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference during the 2016 election - was sentenced to 45 days in prison after he entered a guilty plea to charges of financial fraud and lying to investigators. Lev Pasrnas was arrested in November of last year for campaign finance violations tied to the Trump-Ukraine scandal. His trial was set to start ust before Election Day but then moved to March of next year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
President Trump declared the entire matter to be "fake news" on Tuesday night in a rare unflagged tweet. The President has already pardoned General Mike Flynn, and there is talk the Tiger King, Joseph Maldonado-Passage, could be next.