Trump 12-31-16

Several recent developments in the Trump/Russia investigation make clear that special counsel Robert Mueller is closing in on current and former White House staffers and what they may know about Donald Trump's attempts to obstruct the investigation into collusion with Russia. Among other things, Mueller has requested White House documents pertaining to the firing of disgraced National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.

Trump's White House claimed Flynn's firing was the result of Flynn lying to Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with Russian officials, but there's an odd bit of video that raises questions about what Trump knew about those contacts at the time.

On New Year's Eve, a reporter asked Trump about his consistent refusal to accept Russia's involvement in the 2016 presidential election, and Trump made a promise that sounds awfully familiar now:

REPORTER: It seems inappropriate for the occasion, but it seems like you have a tendency, looking at it from the outside, to doubt American intelligence when it comes to Russian hacking. I’m trying to better understand why it seems that way.

TRUMP: Well, I just want them to be sure. Because it’s a pretty serious charge, and I want them to be sure. And if you look at the weapons of mass destruction, that was a disaster. And they were awful. And so I want them to be sure. I think it’s unfair if they don’t know. And I know a lot about hacking, and hacking is a very hard thing to prove. So it could be somebody else. And I also know things that other people don’t know, and so, they cannot be sure of this situation.

REPORTER: What do you know that other people don’t know?

TRUMP: You’ll find out on Tuesday or Wednesday.

That big reveal never did happen, but what we know now is that Trump made it just days after Flynn had one of the undisclosed phone calls with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that eventually got him fired, and that Trump tried to quash any subsequent investigation into Flynn. Trump also continued to express doubt about Russia's involvement in election interference.

That pattern is an awful lot like the pattern that followed the email to set up the Trump Tower Russian collusion meeting, after which Trump promised to give a speech revealing dirt on Hillary Clinton:

“I am going to give a major speech on probably Monday of next week, and we’re going to be discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons. I think you’re going to find it very informative and very, very interesting.”

That promise also went unfulfilled, but a pattern that looked an awful lot like coordination emerged instead.

In both cases, it certainly appears that Trump acted like someone who knew things he's claiming not to have known. In Flynn's case, Mueller's recent document requests could help to uncover evidence of that, as well as of obstruction.

Watch the rest of that New Year's Eve clip below, via Fox News.

Please note: This is a commentary piece. The views and opinions expressed within it are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of IJR.

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