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Did Trump's Lawyer Plan to Pardon Away the Mueller Probe?

Did Trump's Lawyer Plan to Pardon Away the Mueller Probe?”

Both Gates and the lawyer, Alexander van der Zwaan, have pleaded guilty and are cooperating with Mueller in his investigation of Russian meddling in the election.

Three unnamed sources told the Times that Dowd discussed offering presidential pardons for Flynn, the president's former national security adviser, and Manafort, Trump's former campaign manager, as Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election mounted.

A New York Times report published Wednesday afternoon said that Trump's former lawyer, John Dowd, broached the idea of pardoning former advisers Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort with their lawyers past year, citing three unnamed people with knowledge of the discussions.

Andrew Wright, a former associate in the White House counsel's office under President Barack Obama, highlighted that Dowd, Cobb, and Sekulow have all denied that Dowd broached the possibility of pardons for Flynn or Manafort.

In response to reporters' questions about the Times report, White House press secretary pointed back to Cobb's statement, adding that "there is no discussion or consideration of this at that at this time". Dowd reportedly told Flynn's attorney, Robert K. Kelner, that Trump felt the case against Flynn was flimsy and that the president was prepared to pardon him. He pleaded guilty earlier this year to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about his interactions with Gates and the former intelligence officer and is to be sentenced on April 3. Instead, Mueller has indicted Gates and Manafort on charges related to their consulting work for former Ukrainian prime minister Viktor Yanukovych.

"The fact that an official who had an important role in the Trump campaign alongside (Paul) Manafort was dealing with an individual who he knew was tied to Russian intelligence is a big deal, as is the fact that Mueller made a decision to put that card face up on the table at this time", said a person familiar with Mueller's investigation who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Manafort has pleaded not guilty to charges in two indictments filed by Mueller's office. (Kilimnik has denied any such links to Russian intelligence.) That is to say, Manafort was employing a person who probably had a direct line, and who knows what other secret connections, to the Kremlin.

It is not clear if Dowd spoke with the President about the prospect of pardoning Flynn and Manafort prior to discussing the possibility with their lawyers, according to the Times.

Last year, The Washington Post reported that Trump had asked the White House Counsel's Office about his authority to grant pardons, including whether he could issue one for himself.

Dowd did not respond to an additional request for comment.

"I had no such discussions with them", Dowd said in a phone interview.

"Not that I'm aware of", she said.



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