It took an entire day, but President Trump finally broke his silence on Friday’s bombshell news that his former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, had entered a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller’s office.
Flynn agreed to plead guilty to the relatively minor crime of lying to the FBI about meetings he held with Russian officials during the transition, in exchange for cooperating with the the special counsel’s investigation into Russia’s larger role undermining the 2016 election and tipping it in Trump’s favor.
The White House had no reaction yesterday and chose instead to refer all requests for one to the president’s chief counsel,Ty Cobb, who issued a statement saying only, “Nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn.”
Finally, after 24 hours of likely deliberation behind the scenes about what the tweeter in chief should and should not say about the matter, given the gravity of the investigation, they seemed have have settled on a peculiar angle, but there’s a massive problem:
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
By tweeting today that lying to the FBI played a role in his decision to fire his National Security Advisor after just 24 days, Trump is essentially admitting that he’s previously lied on two important points.
First, he’s maintained all along that, to his mind, the only thing Flynn had done wrong was lie to Vice President Mike Pence, and even that was only discovered because of what they insist was illegal ‘unmasking’ by a politically motivated Obama administration. If he knew then that Flynn had lied to the FBI, why was there no mention of it until now?
Second, this revelation sheds new light on the multiple times President Trump urged fallen FBI Director James Comey to shut down his investigation into Russian collusion, and to go easy on Michael Flynn. If Trump knew at the time of his meetings with Comey that Flynn had lied to the FBI – which he would have had to have known if that was a reason he fired him, as today’s tweet claims – then that would be the most glaring case of obstruction of justice yet uncovered.
It’s astonishing that after 24 hours of deliberating by his legal and political braintrust that this is the best that they could come up with. Or maybe the president simply went against his counsel’s advice and went rogue on Twitter, as he does almost every weekend morning. Either way, this appears to be a tweet he could soon regret.