Late last week, President Trump’s legal team took another hit when John Dowd resigned, reportedly because President Trump didn’t listen to his legal advice. Now that Dowd is free and clear, anonymous sources are letting loose. According to the New York Times, Dowd approached the lawyers representing Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort in 2017 to discuss pardons.
The discussions reportedly came before charges or pleas were filed, but raise the possibility that Dowd offered the pardons so that Manafort and Flynn would refuse to cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
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 the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, in exchange for leniency. Mr. Mueller’s team could investigate the prospect that Mr. Dowd made pardon offers to thwart the inquiry, although legal experts are divided about whether such offers might constitute obstruction of justice.
Privately, Dowd has told people he is unsure why Flynn accepted Mueller’s plea deal since President Trump was prepared to pardon him. Dowd denied offering pardons to anyone. “There were no discussions. Period,” he stated. “As far as I know, no discussions.” Current Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow and White House counsel Ty Cobb echoed that sentiment.
According to one expert, Dowd’s efforts could be connected to a larger conspiracy to undermine and impede the special counsel’s investigation.
“The framers did not create the power to pardon as a way for the president to protect himself and his associates from being prosecuted for their own criminal behavior,” Duke law professor Samuel W. Buell pointed out.
(Via New York Times)