News that White House lawyer John Dowd broached the possibility of pardoning Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn has prompted many experts to question whether Dowd could face charges. In a Just Security piece this week. Alex Whiting argued that a so-called “pardon dangle,” if done with corrupt motive to undermine Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, could very well constitute obstruction of justice. Whiting elaborated on this theory today, telling me how Dowd’s “pardon dangle” could easily be seen as an effort to kneecap Mueller’s investigation.
Unlike an actual pardon, the mere offer of a pardon would remove the accused’s incentive to cooperate with investigators. As Alex wrote in his piece, the “message of the dangle was sufficiently clear: hang in there and keep fighting (do not cut a deal with the special counsel) because you will be pardoned before you spend a day in jail.” This could have, in effect, foreclosed Mueller from getting their testimony.
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