Donald Trump jokes with retired General Michael Flynn at a rally in Grand Junction, Colorado, in October 201
President Trump's delicate efforts to fit into the Russia investigation are expanding continue – both in number and scope. The Washington Post reports that Trump's former lawyer John Dowd had made a potential pardon to former campaign chairman Paul Manafort last year, as two people familiar with the talks believed. And the New York Times, which broke the story, also reported Wednesday that Dowd had given the lawyer of former security adviser Michael Flynn the idea.
History is the most significant indication that Trump and / or his legal department have so far adopted, whether to invoke Trump's rather broad pardoning power – an option Trump alluded to, but which was downplayed by his legal team , They also raise questions as to whether the pardons of Manafort and Flynn should influence potential cooperation in the probe. Flynn has pleaded guilty and cooperated while Manafort waits for his trial.
A fundamental question here, however, is where this idea comes from and what it says about the case. It is not clear that such offers would prove to be a hindrance to justice if Special Adviser Robert S. Mueller III investigates Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election. Dowd denies that any pardons have been addressed. "We never talked about pardons, there was no reason to talk about pardons," he told the Post.
So, what's the result here? Here are a few options:
1. Trump knew about the pardon discussions and tried to prevent Flynn's and Manafort's cooperation
This is perhaps the most troubling scenario for Trump, outwardly, but it's also the most logical. Would Dowd really forgive Curse for Flynn and Manafort if he did not think Trump would stand it?
Trump has also repeatedly shown that he is willing to do drastic things that could influence the course of the investigation James B. Comey as FBI director and took steps to dismiss Muller. He even tweeted about his pardon force was "complete." When asked if he could forgive Flynn last year, Trump said he was not "yet."
In one sense, it's almost entirely unsurprising that Trump would at least consider doing so, or even drifting directly to Flynn and Manafort , It is totally in-character for him. Trump has repeatedly referred to the Russia investigation as Fake News, saying that there is nothing to cover up, so he is not afraid of a cover-up. It would not be surprising to see Trump apologizing for Flynn and Manafort – despite past denials.
But that does not change the fact that it looks like he's trying to protect himself from what they might say to Mueller.
. 2 Trump knew about the discussions, but really thinks that Manafort and Flynn are innocent and / or good people
This might be the defense being offered, but it only makes a lot of sense for one of the two involved.
Coming Soon After Flynn was fired for misleading the White House about his contacts with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, Trump went to Comey and said he was indulgent to Flynn, according to Comey's statement to Congress. (Trump denies this.) Trump has also reportedly lamented Flynn's exit from the White House, and he has repeatedly and publicly defended him. So a Flynn pardon might be a very personal decision.
But with Manafort this is a heavier pill. Trump has described Manafort as a "good man", a "respected man" and an "honest man", but his White House has downplayed Manafort's role in the 2016 campaign. And in September, White House lawyer Ty Cobb reported that Manafort might have tried to use his role in the Trump campaign to get back old debt: "It would be really shocking for Manafort to have his relationship with the president
Flynn is a former general who served in the last two governments, so the pardon could be a little easier, but Manafort faces dozens of corruption charges coming from overseas political commitments, and the White House lawyer said the charges against him were disturbing, the idea that Trump would consider taking him It would be much harder to discuss because of a personal connection or the conviction that Manafort is being wrongly accused of forgiving.
. 3 Dowd Freelance
This could legally be the worst statement, considering that the presidential pardon is absolute. The idea that Dowd would go to Flynn and Manafort and have a pardon discussion that Trump himself had not sanctioned-that is, with no real regard for the pardons-would give credibility to the idea that the motives underlying it are not so simple were. 19659020] If a pardon seemed just above the horizon, you could argue that Flynn and Manafort could last longer or even shy away from betraying too much if they cooperated. And if Trump was not involved, it would reinforce the idea that the conversation should influence their actions rather than an actual desire to pardon Flynn and Manafort for other less controversial purposes.
While Many of Trump's Excursions In this whole case, the closer they involve Trump, the worse it might actually be the rare exception: a case in which Trump is involved could actually make Dowd's actions more legitimate. But even then the smell test is not great.