Kellyanne Conway’s husband, George, posted a link to today’s New York Times article about John Dowd raising the prospect of pardons for Flynn and Manafort, and added this tweet.
This is flabbergasting. https://t.co/J0OnbQLXQu
— George Conway (@gtconway3d) March 28, 2018
He’s not the only one who feels that way. It’s commonly thought that Dowd looks as if 1. He was trying to keep Flynn and Manafort quiet because he was afraid what they might reveal about Trump if they cut a deal with Mueller of cooperation for leniency; 2. Dowd believes both men are guilty, else why would they consider accepting a pardon in the first place; 3. Dowd isn’t the least bit worried about whether he appears to be trying to thwart Mueller’s inquiry, 4. or even if he’s committing obstruction of justice (although opinion is divided about whether the offers of a pardon constitute obstruction of justice.)
There’s another layer to the story, and that is who leaked this story to the Times because once you know that, the dots connect very intriguingly. Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo:
It seems quite likely that Manafort either discussed these offers with Gates (after all, they were originally fighting this as a team) or the offer was made to Gates as well. Perhaps, in fact quite likely, Manafort would have relayed the offer. After all, the value of Manafort staying quiet would be heavily undercut if Gates talked. He’d need to get the offer too.
So Gates makes his deal, shares this information with Bob Mueller and then Mueller’s investigators go to Flynn to try to get confirmation. Flynn’s cooperating. So he needs to answer. I don’t think Manafort’s attorneys need to answer that. Certainly, Manafort doesn’t. But Flynn has to cooperate and tell the truth. Pretty quickly Mueller et al. can confirm that these offers (hints of offers at least) were made. The Times seems to get wind of it around the same time. There are lots of players other than Mueller’s team they could have heard this from.
Remember that these offers would have had to have been made many months ago, before Flynn’s deal (12/1/2017) and before the charges against Manafort (10/30/2017). So how did the Times just catch wind of it? Again, Gates.
And don’t forget this.
Mueller is throwing everything he can against Manafort, including Gates who can nail him. Increasingly it appears Manafort is the link to Russian collusion. If Gates can testify that Manafort was acting with Trump’s blessings, it’s the end of his presidency. That’s substantial. https://t.co/t6pHNno1xL
— John Dean (@JohnWDean) February 25, 2018
The Gates testimony is the first domino of the rest of the investigation. Manafort doesn’t have a prayer after Gates testifies, and Trump doesn’t have a prayer after Manafort testifies.