"That's an actual crime": Experts stunned at alleged Giuliani-Trump plot to sell pardons for $2M

Selling presidential pardons could violate bribery and theft of honest services laws, ex-prosecutor says

By Gabriella Ferrigine

News Fellow

Published May 16, 2023 12:36PM (EDT)

U.S. President Donald Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani (Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani (Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

A woman employed by former New York City mayor and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani alleged in a lawsuit filed on Monday that Giuliani talked about selling pardons and shared plans to flip the 2020 presidential election.

Noelle Dunphy in a 70-page complaint stated that Giuliani repeatedly sexually assaulted and harassed her, often engaged in racist and antisemitic language, and did not pay her. Dunphy, who is seeking $10 million in damages, also says Giuliani kept her employment "secret" once she was hired, only paying her around $12,000 and owing her nearly $2 million in unpaid compensation.

"Mayor Rudy Giuliani unequivocally denies the allegations raised by Ms. Dunphy," a Giuliani spokesperson said. "Mayor Giuliani's lifetime of public service speaks for itself and he will pursue all available remedies and counterclaims."

The complaint also states that Giuliani claimed he had "immunity" and discussed presidential pardons, which he said he was selling for $2 million and would split with then-President Donald Trump. Giuliani purportedly told Dunphy she could send individuals seeking pardon directly to him so that they did not need to "the normal channels" of the Office of the Pardon Attorney.

NBC reported that Trump pardoned 74 people and commuted the sentences of 70 others shortly before leaving office in 2021.

The Intercept's Ryan Grim zeroed in on the portion of the lawsuit related to the pardons.

"That's an actual crime," he tweeted, arguing it would be a "stronger" case than "some fake book keeping on hush money."

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Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti wrote that selling pardons would violate laws dealing with "bribery and theft of honest services."

"It's trading an official act (a pardon) for a private benefit ($)," he tweeted.

Dunphy in the suit also claimed that Giuliani in 2019 disclosed Trump's plans in the event that he lost the 2020 election, including that Trump's team would claim that there was "'voter fraud' and that Trump had actually won the election."

Giuliani's New York law license was suspended in June for his "demonstrably false and misleading" conspiracy theories surrounding the 2020 election. 

By Gabriella Ferrigine

Gabriella Ferrigine is a news fellow at Salon. She began writing at a young age, inspired by the many books she read as well as the world around her. Originally from the Jersey Shore, she moved to New York City in 2016 to attend Columbia University, where she received her B.A. in English and M.A. in American Studies. Currently, Gabriella is pursuing an M.A. in Magazine Journalism at NYU. Prior to working at Salon, she was a staff writer at NowThis News.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Aggregate Donald Trump Noelle Dunphy Politics Rudy Giuliani