President Trump's lawyer, John Dowd, discussed pardons for Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort with their lawyers as special counsel Robert Mueller was building cases against them, three people with knowledge of the conversations tell the New York Times. If true, the Times points out the timing would be significant, in that the conversations would have come as the men were deciding how to plead. Dowd—who was hired to defend Trump in the Mueller investigation and resigned last week—says the report isn't true. "There were no discussions. Period. As far as I know, no discussions." Other members of Trump's legal team have also denied such conversations took place. White House counsel Ty Cobb says he has "only been asked about pardons by the press."
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders adds pardons are "not currently" under consideration, per CNN. But sources say Dowd privately stated he was unsure why Flynn accepted a plea deal when he'd told Flynn's lawyer, Robert Kelner, that the president was willing to offer a pardon. It isn't clear if Dowd ever discussed pardons with Trump. In the case of Manafort, sources say Dowd broached the topic of a pardon with lawyer Reginald Brown before Manafort was indicted on charges including money laundering in October. The suggestion of an attempt to thwart Mueller's investigation has raised questions about whether this would qualify as obstruction of justice; at Bloomberg, Noah Feldman breaks down why Trump wouldn't likely end up in any kind of trouble. (Read more John Dowd stories.)