CNN broke some stunning news Tuesday that the Department of Justice is investigating a potential crime concerning an apparent bribery-for-pardon scheme.
The heavily redacted documents revealed Tuesday do not name the individuals involved or President Donald Trump.
It is common for outgoing presidents to use their right to issue pardons, which wipe out convictions.
Justice Department spokespeople did not return messages seeking comment.
Meanwhile, US media say Mr Trump has been discussing the possibility of pardoning family members.
Last week, he pardoned Michael Flynn, who briefly served as national security adviser at the beginning of Trump's term.
What are the bribery claims?
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As first reported by CNN, the documents do not state who is alleged to have taken part in any such lobbying effort and a "related bribery conspiracy scheme", which is described as an offer of "a substantial political contribution in exchange for a presidential pardon or reprieve of sentence".
The order said prosecutors were also investigating a "secret lobbying scheme" in which two unidentified individuals "acted as lobbyists to senior White House officials, without complying with the registration requirement of the Lobbying Disclosure Act".
The existence of the investigation was revealed in a court order from U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell, the chief judge of Washington's federal court, in which she granted investigators access to certain email communications connected to the alleged schemes that she said was not protected by attorney-client privilege.
It is unknown who the people targeted were.
"No government official was or is now a subject or target of the investigation disclosed in this filing", a Justice Department official said.
"A self-pardon would be a fitting abuse to end Trump's presidency".
A number of Trump allies are reportedly hoping for clemency, including ex-advisers Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos, who were both convicted in the Robert Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
However, the 20-page court documents did not specify that a bribe was ever offered, accepted, nor does it name any individual or President Donald Trump, NBC News reported.