Did Donald Trump just admit to committing obstruction of justice?
Despite his staff's efforts to keep him away from the press, it was only a matter of time until the president found a way to comment on former national security adviser Mike Flynn pleading guilty to lying to the FBI. And on Saturday, he sent out a tweet that raised more questions:
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
Flynn actually resigned under pressure on Feb. 13 amid questions about his dealings with Russia during the presidential transition. The next day, Feb. 14, Trump held the one-on-one Oval Office meeting with James Comey, during which he allegedly asked the FBI director to lay off investigating Flynn.
Trump's tweet seems to indicate he knew at the time that Flynn had lied to the FBI during an interview three weeks prior, on Jan. 24. It was the lies he told in that meeting that led to his indictment this past Friday.
If Trump knew Flynn had lied to the FBI when he asked Comey to “let it go,” in the director's words, that would seem to be a pretty open-and-shut obstruction of justice case — which is why the president's lawyers might be spending Saturday banging their heads into the nearest wall.
Before this, Trump had only said he fired Flynn because he had lied to Vice President Mike Pence about the extent of his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. At least that is what he said when he wasn't screaming that the whole Flynn investigation is a witch hunt:
Mike Flynn should ask for immunity in that this is a witch hunt (excuse for big election loss), by media & Dems, of historic proportion!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 31, 2017
To be fair, this is not the first time Trump has essentially admitted in public that he fired Comey to put a stop to the Russia investigation. He said it to Lester Holt of NBC in a national television interview just a few days after he canned the director.
Plus, the Mueller investigation, being full of career prosecutors, is not going to get excited over a mere tweet. More likely, Mueller and his team are much further along in building a case than this.
And that is if we assume Trump isn't just mixing up his timelines here. Maybe he really didn't know Flynn lied to the FBI until much later than Feb. 13.
But if you take it at face value, this would seem to be as obvious a confession as one can get.
What was Trump thinking? Most likely, he wasn't really. Maybe he thinks this tweet makes his firing of Comey sound like old news that had nothing to do with Flynn. If so, that only makes it more obvious that Trump is either in way over his head or coming apart at the seams.
And yet Trump's political party still seems dedicated to protecting him, at least until he signs this monstrous tax reform bill. That was the devil's bargain the Republican Party made, and it's going to see it through, even as it seems more and more obvious that criminal charges against the president are coming fast.