U.S. President Donald Trump broke his silence over Michael Flynn pleading guilty for lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, saying his former national security advisor had done nothing wrong in his discussions with a Russian ambassador.
Trump tweeted out that he fired Flynn for lying to the FBI and Vice President Mike Pence, and that Flynn has “pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide.”
I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 2, 2017
Earlier on Saturday, Trump told reporters before he left for New York that he wasn’t worried about whatever Flynn might say in the course of the investigation. “No, I’m not. And what has been shown is no collusion. No collusion. There has been absolutely no collusion. So we’re very happy,” he said, according to the Washington Post.
Flynn was the second member of Trump’s campaign to reach a deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and he was more involved with that campaign than George Papadopoulos, a former campaign aide who in late October pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents working for Mueller.
Financial markets initially plunged Friday on news of Flynn’s guilty plea, but later moved well off the day’s lows. “Nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn,” said Ty Cobb, Trump’s lawyer said. But Saturday marked the first time that Trump commented on his former national security advisor.
Trump’s tweet caused a stir on Twitter among those who said it was an admission that he knew Flynn had lied to the FBI when he pressured then-FBI Director James Comey to drop the case. Comey was abruptly fired by Trump in May. Others suggested perhaps Trump was just being careless with his word choice, and it wasn’t really an admission of obstructing justice:
Oh my god, he just admitted to obstruction of justice. If Trump knew Flynn lied to the FBI when he asked Comey to let it go, then there is your case. https://t.co/c6Wtd0TfzW
— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) December 2, 2017
We now have a winner for most self destructive tweet in history! A confession to obstruction of justice. Trump urged Comey to let Flynn go knowing Flynn was guilty. https://t.co/P4qGWMffJd
— Lawrence O’Donnell (@Lawrence) December 2, 2017
Okay wait a second – Trump states publicly he knew Flynn lied to FBI. But he still told Comey to back off Flynn & then fired Comey when Comey wouldn’t back off. WTF? Trump’s lawyers are gonna love this tweet. Not. https://t.co/aJhZrGLF83
— Kathleen Smith (@KikkiPlanet) December 2, 2017
I hate to break it to people, but Trump’s tweet isn’t technically an admission of obstruction of justice. Whether he knew Flynn committed a crime isn’t really the issue. He still could’ve obstructed justice without that knowledge or not obstructed despite that knowledge.
— R.J. Van Auken (@RJVanAuken) December 2, 2017