One of President Donald Trump’s attorneys floated the possibility of pardoning two of the president’s former advisers caught up in the Russia probe in discussions with their lawyers last year, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
The newspaper, citing three anonymous people with knowledge of the discussions, said then-Trump attorney, John Dowd, raised the idea with attorneys for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
According to the Times, the discussion with Flynn’s attorney, Robert Kelner, took place last summer, months before Flynn took a plea deal and began cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller. The conversation with Reginald Brown, who represented Manafort at the time, took place ahead of Manafort’s indictment last October on charges of acting as an unregistered foreign agent and conspiring to launder money.
Reached Wednesday, Brown and Kelner declined to comment. The report provoked strong denials from the White House and Trump’s attorneys.
In a statement, attorney Ty Cobb, who represents the White House, said there have been no pardons discussed related to the Russia investigation.
“I have only been asked about pardons by the press and have routinely responded on the record that no pardons are under discussion or under consideration at the White House,” he said.
Trump personal attorney Jay Sekulow also said, “Never during the course of my representation of the president have I had any discussions of pardons of any individual involved in this inquiry.”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she wasn’t aware of any discussions in which Trump directed Dowd to broach the subject of pardoning people involved in the special counsel’s investigation. But Sanders said she hadn’t asked the president specifically.
The AP earlier reported that Trump mused to aides last summer about pardons and asked for information about the extent of his constitutional powers according two individuals familiar with the discussions. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the conversations were confidential.