As first reported by The New York Times, one of President Trump’s lawyers floated the idea of Trump’s possibly pardoning two of his former top advisers, Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn, with their lawyers last year. The New York Times cites three people with knowledge of the discussions.
The discussions between the lawyers came as the special counsel was building cases against both Flynn and Manfort. Currently, they raise questions about whether the Trump’s recently resigned lawyer, John Dowd, was floating the offers of pardons in order to influence their decisions about whether to plead guilty and cooperate in the investigation. Not only is that unethical — if true, it could also be obstruction.
The dialogue suggests that Mr. Trump’s lawyers feared what damning information Mr. Flynn and Mr. Manafort might reveal, should they cut a deal with Robert Mueller in exchange for leniency.
As part of their current investigation, Mr. Mueller’s team could investigate whether Mr. Dowd did indeed make pardon overtures, in effort to thwart the inquiry.
Per The New York Times report:
How significant would John Dowd’s discussions of pardons for Paul Manafort & Michael Flynn be to Mueller’s obstruction case?@NicolleDWallace asks @MarkMazzettiNYT , one of the reporters who broke the story pic.twitter.com/5KuTU6yGYy
— Deadline White House (@DeadlineWH) March 28, 2018
The pardon discussion with Mr. Manafort’s attorney, Reginald J. Brown, came before his client was indicted in October on charges of money laundering and other financial crimes. Mr. Manafort, the former chairman of Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign, has pleaded not guilty and has told others he is not interested in a pardon because he believes he has done nothing wrong and the government overstepped its authority. Mr. Brown is no longer his lawyer.
It is unclear whether Mr. Dowd discussed the pardons with Mr. Trump before bringing them up with the other lawyers.