President Donald Trump has been discussing the possibility of issuing pardons for his family members and some close associates, multiple sources familiar with the matter told NBC News.
One source said the conversations in recent days were within the context of a president who feels embattled, and not because Trump believes he or any of his family members had done anything illegal.
The New York Times first reported the discussions and said Trump had spoken about whether to grant pre-emptive pardons for his three eldest children, Eric and Donald Jr., and White House advisor Ivanka Trump. His son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and attorney Rudy Giuliani were also mentioned.
The Times reported that Trump had talked with Giuliani about pardoning him as recently as last week.
Giuliani has denied that to NBC News, calling it "a lie," adding that the reports were "totally false."
The White House has not yet commented. However, late Tuesday Trump tweeted: "Pardon investigation is Fake News!"
Trump has not acknowledged he lost the November presidential election to President-elect Joe Biden, and he and Giuliani have continued to make false and baseless claims that the election was rigged. The claims have lacked any evidence, and legal efforts have suffered repeated setbacks.
Trump last week granted a "full pardon" to his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. The move had long been expected after Trump said in March he was "strongly considering" pardoning Flynn.
In July, President Trump commuted the prison sentence of former campaign aide Roger Stone, who was convicted of obstructing a congressional investigation of Russia's 2016 presidential election meddling.
One person familiar with the matter said there is a lot more attention being placed on pardons generally in the final weeks of Trump's administration, and that the president seemed receptive to giving them.
Earlier Tuesday, court documents unsealed by a judge suggested federal investigators were looking into what was described as a potential "bribery-for-pardon" scheme involving presidential pardons.
The heavily redacted documents do not name Trump or the individuals involved. They also do not indicate if any White House officials had knowledge of any scheme.
"No government official was or is currently a subject or target of the investigation disclosed in this filing," a DOJ official said.