John Dowd, the lawyer for President Donald Trump who resigned last week, floated potential pardons of former Trump advisers Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort as special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation closed in, according to a New York Times report published Wednesday.
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.
Dowd had discussions with attorneys for Flynn and Manafort shortly after he took over as Trump’s personal lawyer last summer, according to the Times. 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.
Flynn has since pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian government. After news of the plea broke in December, Dowd told The Wall Street Journal that he was “not worried about it.”
The former Trump lawyer spoke to Manafort’s legal representation about a pardon in October, before Manafort was indicted on charges of conspiracy and money laundering in connection with the Russia investigation, the Times reported.
Read more at The New York Times.
When asked about the reports during a Wednesday press briefing, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders denied any conversation of pardons.
“I would refer you back to the statement from [White House lawyer] Ty Cobb and the report you’re asking about, in which he said, ‘I’ve only been asked about pardons by the press and have routinely responded on the record that no pardons are under discussion or consideration at the White House,’” Sanders told reporters in the briefing room.
The White House has repeatedly denied any collusion with Russia in regard to the 2016 election.
Trump has attacked Mueller’s investigation a number of times, especially as Mueller increases pressure on the president. Mueller issued subpoenas to the Trump Organization demanding documents referencing Russia earlier this month.
The president’s aggression toward Mueller’s investigation has prompted a number of concerns that Trump will push to fire the special counsel. Nine Democratic senators signed a letter Tuesday urging senior officials at the Justice Department to publicly defend Mueller against the White House.
This story has been updated to include comments from White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and more background on the Russia investigation.