2020 Elections

Rudy Giuliani discussed getting preemptive pardon from Trump before president leaves White House, report says

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Key Points
  • President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani recently talked to the president about possibly receiving a preemptive pardon before Trump leaves office, a report says.
  • The discussions, detailed by The New York Times, come as Giuliani leads last-ditch legal efforts by Trump's campaign to reverse President-elect Joe Biden's projected win in the Electoral College.
  • "Not true," Giuliani told CNBC when asked about the pardon discussions.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, personal attorney to U.S. President Donald Trump, gestures as he speaks after media announced that Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Joe Biden has won the 2020 U.S. presidential election, in, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., November 7, 2020.
Eduardo Munoz | Reuters

President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani recently talked to the president about possibly receiving a preemptive pardon before Trump leaves office, according to a report Tuesday.

The discussions, detailed by The New York Times, come as Giuliani leads last-ditch legal efforts by Trump's campaign to reverse President-elect Joe Biden's projected win in the Electoral College.

"Not true," Giuliani told CNBC via a text message when asked about the Times report, which is based on two people with knowledge of the matter.

Giuliani later added in a tweet that he "never had the discussion" that the newspaper's reporters "falsely attribute to an anonymous source."

Giuliani, who has not been charged with any crime, was known as far back as a year ago to be under investigation by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. That's the office Giuliani led in the 1980s, before getting elected New York City mayor in 1993.

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The probe reportedly was focused on Giuliani's actions in Ukraine, where he for months tried to dig up damaging information about Biden and his son Hunter Biden. The status of that investigation is not known.

Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives last year, and ultimately acquitted after a Senate trial, for pressuring the president of Ukraine to launch an investigation of Hunter Biden's business dealings in that country while Trump was withholding congressionally approved military aid to that nation.

The Times reported that Giuliani talked to Trump about a preemptive pardon as recently as last week.

The men previously had discussed that possibility, according to the newspaper.

Giuliani's lawyer, Robert Costello, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC. A White House spokesman declined to comment.

Although rare, it is legal for a president to pardon people for federal crimes before those people have actually been charged with such acts.

The most famous example of that occurred in 1974, when President Gerald Ford pardoned his immediate predecessor, Richard Nixon, who resigned in disgrace after the Watergate scandal. Nixon was the target of a criminal investigation but had not been charged at the time Ford granted the pardon.

Ford's successor in the White House, President Jimmy Carter, issued preemptive pardons to hundreds of thousands of American men who dodged the draft during the Vietnam War.

Trump last week pardoned his first national security advisor, Michael Flynn, for lying to FBI agents about his conversations with a Russian diplomat before Trump's inauguration.

Flynn, who had pleaded guilty in that case before later reversing himself, had yet to be sentenced. The Justice Department was seeking to reverse that conviction and dismiss the charge at the time of the pardon.

Giuliani and other lawyers for Trump's campaign have claimed for weeks that the president was swindled out of a win in the 2020 election. But they have failed to produce any evidence of significant fraud. And the campaign and its allies have either lost or withdrawn lawsuits seeking to invalidate ballots for Biden, who was victorious in both the Electoral College and popular votes.

Giuliani has suggested that state legislatures can overturn the results of their elections and nominate slates of electors for Trump to the Electoral College, nullifying Biden's projected win in those states.