President's attorney floated idea of Flynn, Manafort pardon

JUNE 21 2017 FILE

JUNE 21 2017 FILE

Trump fired Flynn as national security adviser in February after it was revealed Flynn had discussed US sanctions with then-Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak during the transition and later misled Vice President Mike Pence about the conversations.

Mueller told a federal judge in Washington, D.C., that "Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agents assisting the Special Counsel's Office assesses that Person A has ties to a Russian intelligence service and had such ties in 2016".

Last summer, as the special counsel's office was asking a grand jury to indict Michael Flynn on a variety of charges - while simultaneously imploring the former national security adviser to cooperate with investigators - Donald Trump's lawyer made a decision to have a word with Flynn's attorney about the president's pardon powers.

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.

According to the original court documents, van der Zwaan lied to Mueller's investigators November 3 while answering questions about the Tymoshenko report in regards to his last communication with Gates and an unidentified individual in Ukraine referred to as Person A, a "longtime business associate" of Manafort and Gates. Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to investigators and agreed to cooperate with the Mueller probe in December.

A fundamental question here, though, is where this idea came from and what it says about the case.

His legal team filed a motion Tuesday to dismiss a second round of charges brought by Mueller, claiming that he exceeded the scope of the investigation into Russian meddling and potential collusion with Trump campaign associates during the 2016 presidential election.

Dowd issued a vague denial to The Times about the pardon discussions. There was no reason to talk about pardons.

This is perhaps the most troubling scenario for Trump, in terms of appearance, but it's also the most logical one.

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The discussions between Dowd and lawyers for Manafort and Flynn indicated Trump's legal team was concerned about what the two former aides would reveal if they cut a deal with Mueller in exchange for leniency, according to the newspaper. Last year, it was reported that the FBI was investigating potential server connections between the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank.

Trump has virtually unlimited powers to pardon people even before they have been charged with a crime.

In contrast to Flynn, Manafort has denied wrongdoing and is preparing for trial. It's completely in-character for him.

Trump's lawyers Jay Sekulow and Ty Cobb also denied to the Times that they had been involved in any talks about pardons.

With Manafort, though, that's a tougher pill to swallow.

The White House has repeatedly denied any collusion with Russian Federation in regard to the 2016 election.

Sanders was asked several times during the White House press briefing about discussions of pardons.

Flynn is a former general who has served in the last two administrations, so justifying that pardon might be a little easier. Lawyers for van der Zwaan said he should not be sentenced to jail. The idea that Trump would be considering pardoning him because of a personal connection or belief that Manafort is wrongly accused would be much more hard to argue.

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