President Donald Trump’s top lawyer suggested the idea of presidential pardons last summer while speaking to attorneys of Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort, according to reports Wednesday by the New York Times and Washington Post. The conversations reportedly occurred before the two were eventually charged as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Flynn later pleaded guilty to lying to investigators; Manafort faces trial later this year on charges of money laundering and tax fraud. According to experts, raising the possibility of a pardon could be seen as obstruction of justice if it was meant to persuade Flynn and Manafort against cooperating with prosecutors, thus hindering Mueller’s investigation. The pardons were reportedly floated by John Dowd, Trump’s former lead attorney, who resigned last week. Dowd denied the report, telling the Post “we never talked about pardons.” On Wednesday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders read a statement from current Trump lawyer Ty Cobb that said: “There’s no discussion or consideration of that [a pardon] at this time.”
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