President Trump's lawyer raised the possibility of a presidential pardon for former advisers Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort, who have been at the center of ongoing Russia speculation, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
Attorney John Dowd was hoping that the offer of a pardon would keep Flynn, the former national security adviser, and Manafort, the former campaign chairman, from cooperating in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, the Times reports, citing "three people with knowledge of the discussions." Mueller's probe is determining whether Trump's campaign team had a role in Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Dowd, who resigned last week, reportedly discussed leniency with Flynn's lawyer last summer, while a grand jury determined whether to indict Flynn for various crimes including lying to the FBI. He also apparently spoke of pardons with Manafort's attorney before Manafort was indicted in October. "The talks suggest that Mr. Trump's lawyers were concerned about what Mr. Flynn and Mr. Manafort might reveal were they to cut a deal with [Mueller] in exchange for leniency," the Times notes.
It is unclear whether Dowd ever discussed the idea with Trump himself; Dowd denies that the conversations ever occurred. Flynn and Manafort have each been indicted in connection with Mueller's probe, with Flynn pleading guilty in December to lying to the FBI, while Manafort has pleaded not guilty to a spate of financial charges. Read more at The New York Times.