The Report, Episode Thirteen: Pardons On The Table

Susan Hennessey, Benjamin Wittes, Alina Polyakova, Clint Watts, John Sipher, Thomas Rid
Tuesday, October 27, 2020, 12:00 PM

Today, we released the thirteenth episode of Lawfare’s narrative audio documentary, The Report, which recounts the story Robert Mueller lays out in his 448-page report.

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Today, we released the thirteenth episode of Lawfare’s narrative audio documentary, The Report, which recounts the story Robert Mueller lays out in his 448-page report.

This episode details President Trump’s reactions to the indictments of a few of his close associates. Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates and Roger Stone find themselves in legal trouble and the president is worried that they will cooperate with investigators. As his former aides contemplate whether to cooperate, the president begins a campaign through public comments and private outreach to convince them that, just maybe, he might be able to help them out. In thinly-veiled remarks to the press and messages through his lawyer, the president teases out the possibility of pardons for the men; if they stay loyal, he will “take care” of them. The Special Counsel reaches varying conclusions about whether different behavior by the president toward his aides constitutes obstruction of justice, but Mueller suggests that some of the president’s conduct meets all the elements of obstruction.

Susan Hennessey was the Executive Editor of Lawfare and General Counsel of the Lawfare Institute. She was a Brookings Fellow in National Security Law. Prior to joining Brookings, Ms. Hennessey was an attorney in the Office of General Counsel of the National Security Agency. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School and the University of California, Los Angeles.
Benjamin Wittes is editor in chief of Lawfare and a Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution. He is the author of several books.
Alina Polyakova is the David M. Rubenstein Fellow in the Foreign Policy program's Center on the United States and Europe and adjunct professor of European studies at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.
Clint Watts is a Robert A. Fox Fellow for the Foreign Policy Research Institute and a Senior Fellow at the George Washington University’s Center for Cyber & Homeland Security. Prior to these positions, Clint served as a U.S. Army officer, an FBI Special Agent, and with the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.
John Sipher is the co-founder of Spycraft Entertainment, a production firm providing content and talent to the entertainment industry. He is also a Director of Client Services at CrossLead, a software and consulting firm. John is a sought-after foreign policy and intelligence expert. His articles have been published in Lawfare, The New York Times, The Atlantic, Politico, Foreign Affairs, Newsweek, Slate, and Just Security, among others. He regularly appears on the PBS NewsHour, CNN, NPR, MSNBC, BBC and speaks to corporate, academic and governmental groups. John retired in 2014 after a 28-year career in the Central Intelligence Agency’s National Clandestine Service. At the time of his retirement, he was a member of the CIA’s Senior Intelligence Service, the leadership team that guides CIA activities globally. John served multiple overseas tours as Chief of Station and Deputy Chief of Station in Europe, Asia, and in high-threat environments. He has significant experience working with foreign and domestic partners to solve national security challenges. John also served as a lead instructor in the CIA’s clandestine training school and was a regular lecturer at the CIA’s leadership development program. He is the recipient of the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal. John graduated from Hobart College and has a Master’s in International Affairs from Columbia University. He has attended a variety of executive courses at Harvard University, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, The Aspen Institute, and the Intelligence Community’s Executive Leadership program.
Thomas Rid is a Professor of Strategic Studies at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. Rid is the Founding Director of the Alperovitch Institute at SAIS.

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