The New York Times is reporting today that Dowd, Trump’s personal lawyer, floated the offer of pardons to Manafort and Flynn, implicitly some kind of deal for their silence.
“But even if a pardon were ultimately aimed at hindering an investigation, it might still pass legal muster, said Jack Goldsmith, a former assistant attorney general in the George W. Bush administration and a professor at Harvard Law School.
“There are few powers in the Constitution as absolute as the pardon power — it is exclusively the president’s and cannot be burdened by the courts or the legislature,” he said. “It would be very difficult to look at the president’s motives in issuing a pardon to make an obstruction case.”
The remedy for such interference would more likely be found in elections or impeachment than in prosecuting the president, Mr. Goldsmith added.”
I respectfully disagree, for reasons I’ve explained before here and following up counterarguments here. If a president could be guilty of selling pardons (bribery, surely!), he could be guilty of offering pardons to obstruct justice.
I still don’t think a president can be indicted while in office. Impeach and remove first, then prosecute. But I do think John Dowd could be in serious trouble. Attorney-client privilege does give him the privilege to attempt to obstruct justice.