As more details emerge related to former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s guilty plea for lying to the FBI, one of the crucial questions remains what did President Trump know and when did he know it. That question came up when Trump tweeted this weekend what many saw as an admission that he knew that Flynn had lied to the FBI before he asked former FBI Director James Comey to drop his investigation of the now admitted perjurer.
That one tweet could be all the evidence that Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller needs to charge Trump with obstruction of justice. A report on CNN today. however, gives Mueller even more evidence that the President knew about Flynn’s crimes before his fateful conversation with Comey and hints at the defense that Trump’s lawyers plan to pursue.
CNN has learned from its sources that White House counsel Don McGahn told Trump last January that Flynn had lied to both the FBI and Vice-President Mike Pence and should be fired. McGahn’s recommendation came after then Acting Attorney General Sally Yates informed him of her findings in the matter and rushed to the White House to urge them to get rid of Flynn as soon as possible. According to the report, while McGahn told Trump about the lies, he did not mention that Flynn’s actions violated the law and that the General was under active investigation, although, as the chief legal officer in the administration, McGahn surely knew the implications of the charges against Flynn.
The timing of the conversation between the President and his chief counsel is crucial. It took nearly three more weeks before Flynn was fired from his highly sensitive national security role, and, at the time, the only reason that Trump gave for the firing was Flynn’s misleading of the Vice-President.
While the new admission of knowledge seems to make obstruction of justice charges against the President highly likely, Trump’s attorney’s are testing a new defense strategy in their public comments since the news became public. In an interview with Axios, Trump’s personal attorney, John Dowd tried to claim that the President has legal immunity from any obstruction of justice charges since he is the head of the executive branch that is tasked with enforcing the laws that Congress passes,
“(The) President cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer under (the Constitution’s Article II) and has every right to express his view of any case,” Dowd said to Axios.