Trump's former attorney John Dowd. Photo: Jin Lee / Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Trump's former lawyer John Dowd suggested to Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort's lawyers that Trump would pardon them if they did not work with Robert Mueller's probe into the Trump campaign's relationship with Russia during the 2016 election, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The discussion about pardons came as Mueller was closing in on Flynn and Manafort, and could indicate that the White House was intending to influence the former Trump associates' decisions on whether to cooperate with the investigation.

Details, according to the Times:

  • Dowd didn't know that Flynn had accepted a plea deal and had told Flynn's lawyer that the President didn't believe the case against him, according to one of the Times' sources.
  • It's not clear that Dowd talked to Trump before approaching Flynn and Manafort's lawyers about pardons.
  • Dowd and the President's other lawyers denied that there were any discussions of pardons.
  • If there was an offer of a pardon, there's division among legal experts over whether it would constitute obstruction of justice.

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Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testifies before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on Capitol Hill on Wednesday July 24, 2019. Photo: The Washington Post / Contributor

Former special counsel Robert Mueller responded to claims from President Trump and his allies that Roger Stone was a "victim" in the Justice Department's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, writing in a Washington Post op-ed published Saturday: "He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so."

Why it matters: The rare public comments by Mueller come on the heels of President Trump's move to commute the sentence of his longtime associate, who was sentenced in February to 40 months in prison for crimes stemming from the Russia investigation. The controversial decision brought an abrupt end to the possibility of Stone spending time behind bars.

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