White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Wednesday deflected questions about whether President Trump's lawyers have "broached" the topic of pardoning Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort with their respective lawyers as the special counsel was tightening its case against the president's former advisers.
The questions arose from a New York Times report, citing three anonymous sources, and raised questions about "whether the lawyer, John Dowd, was offering pardons to influence their decisions about whether to plead guilty and cooperate in the investigation."
Flynn, Trump's former national security adviser accused of lying to the FBI, pleaded guilty last December. Manafort, Trump's former campaign chair, has pleaded not guilty to multiple charges, including money laundering.
"The talks suggest that Mr. Trump’s lawyers were concerned about what Mr. Flynn and Mr. Manafort might reveal were they to cut a deal with the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, in exchange for leniency," the Times story read.
Sanders was asked several times during the White House press briefing about discussions of pardons. She repeatedly cited a statement from Trump's current lawyer, Ty Cobb.
"I can say that Ty Cobb is the person that would be most directly involved in this," Sanders said. "And he's got a statement on the record saying that there's no discussion and there's no consideration of those at this time in the White House."
Dowd resigned as Trump's lawyer March 22.