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Michael Cohen’s lawyer was first to bring up pardon with Trump attorneys

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By Ken Dilanian

A lawyer for Michael Cohen first broached the idea of a pardon with President Donald Trump’s legal team, two people familiar with the matter tell NBC News, and the ensuing pardon discussions are now under examination by House and Senate intelligence committees.

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that Cohen’s lawyer, Stephen Ryan, first mentioned the idea of a pardon with the Trump legal team in the weeks after the April raid on Cohen’s home and office, and that the president’s lawyers, including Jay Sekulow, Rudy Giuliani and Joanna Hendon, dismissed the idea. But at least one of them, Giuliani, left open the possibility that the president could grant Cohen one in the future, the Journal reported.

NBC News spoke to three people, one of whom is familiar with what Cohen told the House and Senate intelligence committees, one of whom is familiar with Cohen’s account, and one of whom is familiar with the account of Trump’s legal team.

None of them disputed the Journal reporting. The sources familiar with Cohen’s closed-door congressional testimony say there was more than one discussion about pardons, and that regardless of who initiated it, Congress is examining the question of whether the White House used the promise of a pardon to induce Cohen to continue his false story. The person close to Cohen said he was part of a joint defense agreement at the time and that he certainly would have accepted a pardon.

It’s not clear how serious the discussions were. No pardon was forthcoming, and Cohen eventually broke with Trump and said publicly he would not accept a pardon if offered.

Ryan, Cohen’s lawyer at the time, did not respond to a request for comment. Cohen spokesman Lanny Davis declined to comment, as did Trump lawyer Sekulow.

But Giuliani said: “I cannot discuss conversations with other counsel other than to say anyone who asked me about pardons I repeated what President has said that pardons would not be considered at this time.”

Cohen is due to report to prison in early May for a three-year sentence. Last August, he pleaded guilty to eight charges, including lying to Congress about the timing of Trump Tower Moscow negotiations and paying hush money to two women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump.

Kristen Welker contributed.



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Brexit vote LIVE STREAM: How to watch MPs vote on no deal Brexit – online stream

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THERESA MAY and MPs in the House of Commons will take part in another vital Brexit vote tonight, as the matter of leaving without a deal is up for debate. Here’s how you can watch the vote online.

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‘Not something that’s right now on my mind”

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 / Updated 

By Jonathan Allen

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he hasn’t considered pardoning former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

“I have not even given it a thought as of this moment,” Trump said told reporters at the White House, just hours after Manafort was sentenced to 43 months additional prison time after being sentenced in a different case last week. “It is not something that’s right now on my mind.”

The president also expressed sympathy for his former top campaign aide.

“I feel very badly for Paul Manafort,” Trump said. “It’s a very sad situation.”

Manafort was sentenced by a federal judge to 43 months in prison Wednesday on convictions related to undisclosed lobbying work he did on behalf of Ukrainian politicians close to Russia, bringing his federal prison stint from two separate cases to 7.5 years. However, he’ll get credit for nine months of time served.

Shortly after his sentence was handed down in Washington, Manafort was hit by Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance with indictments on 16 charges related to what prosecutors say was a residential mortgage-fraud scheme and conspiracy.

Told by a reporter that Manafort wouldn’t be eligible for a pardon on state-level charges, Trump said, “I don’t know anything about it.”

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Brexit no deal: What is a free vote? Is tonight's no deal vote free?

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CRUCIAL Brexit developments are taking place in Parliament tonight, as MPs take part in a landmark vote which will determine the UK’s position when exiting the European Union. What is a free vote and how does it affect Brexit?

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