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Trump Lawyer Reportedly Discussed Pardoning Flynn And Manafort

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Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
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John Dowd, a former lawyer for President Donald Trump, discussed pardoning former national security adviser Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort with attorneys for the Trump associates, according to The New York Times.

Dowd, who quit the Trump legal team last week, broached the topic in separate conversations with Flynn attorney Robert Kelner and Manafort lawyer Reginald Brown, The Times reports.

Dowd’s conversation with Kelner occurred summer 2017, shortly after Dowd joined Trump’s Russia legal team and months before Flynn pleaded guilty in the Robert Mueller probe. Dowd’s conversation with Brown occurred before Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, was indicted in October on a slew of money laundering and bank fraud charges that appear unrelated to his stint on the Trump campaign.

Flynn, the former national security advisor, pleaded guilty in December to lying to the FBI during an interview in January 2017 about his contacts with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. (RELATED: Dowd Is Done: Trump’s Top Lawyer Resigns In Frustration)

Dowd’s interactions with the attorneys raises several questions, including whether Trump knew of the conversations and whether they were an attempt to influence Flynn and Manafort’s decisions regarding the special counsel’s probe.

The Times report quotes legal experts who acknowledge that Trump has wide pardon power. But one scholar, Jack Goldsmith of Harvard Law School, noted that any pardon would likely have political ramifications.

Dowd has privately questioned why Flynn accepted the guilty plea, according to The Times. He also reportedly told Kelner, the Flynn lawyer, that Trump believed the case against Flynn was flimsy and that he was considering a pardon. Manafort has reportedly told associates that he does not need a pardon because he believes he did not break the law.

Trump himself has not dismissed the idea of pardons, at least for Flynn.

“I don’t want to talk about pardons for Michael Flynn yet,” Trump told reporters on December 15. “We’ll see what happens. Let’s see. I can say this: When you look at what’s gone on with the FBI and with the Justice Department, people are very, very angry.”

Dowd issued a vague denial to The Times about the pardon discussions.

“There were no discussions. Period,” he said, adding that, “as far as I know, no discussions.”

Kelner declined The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment as did a spokesman for Manafort.

Dowd quit Trump’s legal team Thursday, following reports that Trump was planning to hire former U.S. attorney Joseph DiGenova.

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