Reprinted with permission fromShareblue.com
Donald Trump may have just admitted to obstruction of justice — in a tweet.
Early Saturday afternoon, Trump took to Twitter and promptly blurted out that he knew former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty Friday to making false statements to the FBI, had lied to investigators while he was working in the White House.
“I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies,” Trump tweeted. “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
As some savvy Twitter users, including a former Director of the Office of Public Affairs for the Department of Justice, Matthew Miller, quickly pointed out, Trump appears to have just implicated himself in an obstruction of justice case.
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
Indeed, if Trump knew that Flynn had lied to federal investigators when he asked former FBI Director James Comey to lay off the investigation of Flynn, and subsequently fired Comey, then he knowingly interfered in an investigation of a federal crime.
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) December 2, 2017
Attorney Susan Hennessey, executive editor of Lawfare, said Trump’s tweet is “a pretty substantial confession to essential knowledge elements of an obstruction of justice charge.”
“He is acknowledging awareness of the commission of a federal offense at the time he sought to intervene to prevent its investigation,” she added.
And on MSNBC, Dahlia Lithwick, legal correspondent at Slate, noted that Trump “pretty much made himself an obstruction of justice t-shirt right there.”
Flynn left the administration on Feb. 13, over two weeks after he lied to the FBI about his communications with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The next day, Feb. 14, Trump asked Comey to “let go” of the investigation into Flynn. Soon after, Trump fired Comey.
Based on his tweet today, Trump is saying that he was aware that Flynn had committed a federal crime when he pressured Comey to stop investigating him.
“Are you ADMITTING you knew Flynn had lied to the FBI when you asked Comey to back off Flynn?” Walter Shaub, former director of the Office of Government Ethics, asked on Twitter.
Tell us, @realDonaldTrump, did you know Flynn had lied to the FBI when Counsel to the President Don McGahn snubbed Yates as she tried to warn the White House Flynn had been compromised?
Did you know Flynn had lied to the FBI when you fired Yates days after her whistleblowing?
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) December 2, 2017
After news of Flynn’s flip broke, Trump’s lawyer, Ty Cobb, issued a statement absurdly trying to link Flynn’s actions to President Barack Obama. He also tried to downplay the significance of the plea deal.
“The false statements involved mirror the false statements to White House officials which resulted in his resignation in February of this year,” Cobb said, according to Politico. “Nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn. The conclusion of this phase of the Special Counsel’s work demonstrates again that the Special Counsel is moving with all deliberate speed and clears the way for a prompt and reasonable conclusion.”
You might have want to have a word with your client, Mr. Cobb, before he implicates himself any further.
On second thought — let him keep talking, and digging his own hole even deeper.