A lawyer for Donald Trump broached the idea of Trump pardoning two of his former top advisers, Michael T. Flynn and Paul Manafort, with their lawyers last year, according to three people with knowledge of the discussions.
This excerpt is pulled from Michael S. Schmidt’s, Jo Becker’s, Mark Mazzetti’s, Maggie Haberman’s, and Adam Goldman’s article, “Trump’s Lawyer Raised Prospect of Pardons for Flynn and Manafort,” published by the New York Times on March 28, 2018. Read the full report here.
The discussions came as the special counsel was building cases against both men, and they raise questions about whether the lawyer, John Dowd, who resigned last week, was offering pardons to influence their decisions about whether to plead guilty and cooperate in the investigation.
Dowd’s conversation with Flynn’s lawyer, Robert K. Kelner, occurred sometime after Dowd took over last summer as the president’s personal lawyer, at a time when a grand jury was hearing evidence against Flynn on a range of potential crimes.
Flynn, who served as Trump’s first national security adviser, agreed in late November to cooperate with the special counsel’s investigation. He pleaded guilty in December to lying to the F.B.I. about his conversations with the Russian ambassador and received favorable sentencing terms.
Dowd has said privately that he did not know why Flynn had accepted a plea, according to one of the people. He said he had told Kelner that the president had long believed that the case against Flynn was flimsy and was prepared to pardon him, the person said.
The pardon discussion with Manafort’s attorney, Reginald J. Brown, came before his client was indicted in October on charges of money laundering and other financial crimes.