The Daily Beast

Dark Money Group Paid Former Trump AG to Ask for Pardons—and He Never Registered as a Lobbyist

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty

In Donald Trump’s final months in office, lobbyists swarmed the White House in hopes of securing pardons for their clients. It was a cash bonanza for Beltway insiders aspiring to bend the aggrieved president’s ear, as disclosures required by federal law later revealed.

But one person stands out among that crowd, both for his former role in the Trump administration and for the fact that he never registered as a lobbyist—even though he was being paid $400,000 by a conservative dark money group that had tapped him to lead its efforts to secure pardons and commutations.

Matthew Whitaker held senior roles in Trump’s Justice Department from Sept. 2017 to Feb. 2019, finishing off his DOJ tenure with a three-month stint as the acting attorney general. And when he finally departed the administration, he found quite the cushy gig: chairing a new project for the right-wing nonprofit FreedomWorks.

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