White House Denies Considering Pardons for Flynn and Manafort

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Based on his tweets and public comments about both entities, the Russian Federation investigation and Mueller's team, those people include the president.

Rick Gates, a senior official on President Donald Trump's campaign, was in contact in September and October 2016 with an associate that the Federal Bureau of Investigation assessed had ongoing ties to Russia's intelligence services, special counsel Robert Mueller said in a new court filing.

A former Russian intelligence officer who worked with U.S. President Donald Trump's former top campaign officials Paul Manafort and Rick Gates was communicating with Gates late in the 2016 presidential campaign, according to court records filed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office.

Mueller's team could investigate whether attorney John Dowd, who left the president's legal team last week, made the pardon offers in an effort to thwart the investigation.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders referred to Cobb's statement when asked about the Times' report at a briefing Wednesday, later adding that pardons are "not currently" under consideration.

According to the Times, Dowd talked about the idea as special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russian Federation probe MORE was building cases against Flynn and Manafort.

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Former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to investigators and agreed to cooperate with the Mueller probe in December.

Even in Dowd's comment to the Times, there was wiggle room.

It supposedly raises questions about whether Dowd was offering pardons to influence their actions in the investigation.

Three sources say that Mueller's team is now looking at the possibility that Dowd made pardon offers to both former Trump advisers a year ago because the president's team was concerned about what they might say if they struck a deal with the special counsel. In February 2017, he told The New York Times he had "never knowingly spoken to Russian intelligence officers, and I have never been involved with anything to do with the Russian government of the Putin administration or any other issues under investigation today".

Lawyers for Flynn and Manafort declined to respond to the Times' request for comment.

Two weeks after Flynn's guilty plea, Trump was asked by reporters whether he would pardon the retired Army three-star general. "Floating the possibility of a pardon to a witness considering cooperation with a grand jury investigation would be bad if Dowd represented another non-presidential witness". "This is all my personal opinion, and I stand by it".

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