The reported conversations suggest Dowd, and possibly others including Trump himself, were concerned the former national security adviser and Trump campaign chairman might cut a deal with Robert Mueller, the Justice Department's special counsel investigating Russia's 2016 election meddling, and give him information damaging to the president.
An attorney for President Donald Trump raised the idea of Trump pardoning two of his former top advisers previous year as Special Counsel Robert Mueller was building a case against them in his probe into possible Russian interference in the US presidential election, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders referred to Cobb's statement when asked about the Times' report at a briefing Wednesday, later adding that pardons are "not currently" under consideration. The Times report did not specify exactly when Dowd spoke about a pardon with Flynn's lawyer, Robert Kelner. Flynn, Trump's former national security adviser, pleaded guilty in the special counsel probe to lying to federal agents.
Both Mr. Manafort and Mr. Gates were indicted a year ago for money laundering and other financial crimes committed while, the charges said, they tried to hide the money they received for their Ukraine work.
Legal experts were split on whether such a discussion would amount to obstruction of justice, even if Dowd broached the idea with Trump before talking to lawyers for Manafort and Flynn - a point that the New York Times said remained unclear.
The new document is a sentencing memorandum for Alex van der Zwaan, a lawyer who pleaded guilty in February to lying to federal investigators about his conversations with Mr. Gates in 2016 about work the two men did in Ukraine.
Donald Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and his deputy, Rick Gates, were in contact during the 2016 presidential campaign with a business associate known to have ties to Russian military intelligence, according to court documents.
Two weeks after Flynn's guilty plea, Trump was asked by reporters whether he would pardon the retired Army three-star general.
Gates remained in touch with "Person A" late in the campaign, Mueller said, communicating with the associate and van der Zwaan in a "series of calls" in September and October of 2016. "Period.... As far as I know, no discussions".
"Not that I'm aware of", she said.
Raising such a possibility could be viewed as an incentive for witnesses not to cooperate with investigators.