President's lawyer 'talked of pardons for Flynn and Manafort'
Donald Trump's lawyer talked about pardoning two top former advisers as the Russian investigation was closing in, according to 'The New York Times'.
John Dowd reportedly discussed the topic with lawyers for Michael Flynn, the former White House national security adviser, and Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman.
The conversations were said to have taken place last year as both came under scrutiny from Robert Mueller, the special counsel looking into Russian election meddling.
It raises the question of whether pardons were discussed to dissuade the two men from pleading guilty and co-operating with the investigation, thereby revealing what they knew during the campaign. It is unclear if Mr Trump was aware of the alleged conversations, said ' The New York Times'. The claim was also denied by Mr Dowd.
The US president has the power to pardon people who face or are convicted of federal charges.
There has been media speculation for months about whether Mr Trump could use the power to protect any former campaign aides charged by the Russia investigation.
Mr Flynn, who was fired for misleading senior Trump figures about his contacts with the Russian ambassador, was charged with lying to the FBI. He eventually pleaded guilty.
Mr Manafort was charged with a number of alleged crimes including money laundering and making false statements. He has pleaded not guilty.
Mr Dowd's discussions about pardoning with each of the men's lawyers took place before the charges were brought against them late last year, according to 'The New York Times'.
As central figures in Mr Trump's 2016 election campaign, both men would have had a front-row seat on private discussions before the vote. Allegations that Mr Trump's campaign colluded with the Russians in an attempt to win the election are believed to be a focus of Mr Mueller's investigation.
Mr Dowd told ' The New York Times': "There were no discussions. Period. As far as I know, no discussions."
Meanwhile, the adult-film actress who says that she was paid to keep quiet about a sexual relationship with Mr Trump has asked a federal judge for permission to depose Mr Trump and his lawyer, Michael Cohen, as part of discovery before a trial in her lawsuit to void the settlement. Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, filed the request in a federal court in Los Angeles.
"Mr Trump has never personally addressed any of the issues concerning the hush agreement in public, let alone under oath," Ms Clifford's lawyer, Michael Avenatti, said in the filing.
Her lawyer wants sworn testimony from Mr Trump, and is also seeking a legal interview with the president's lawyer.
Ms Daniels alleges that she had unprotected sex with Mr Trump in 2006, a year after he married Melania Trump. He denies it.
Mr Avenatti's motion, which was filed in a court in the Central District of California early yesterday, ramps up the legal duel. (© Daily Telegraph London)