Trump's tweet raised immediate questions about whether he knew Flynn had lied to the FBI when he fired him in February
His tweet has started garnering reaction
President Donald Trump said Saturday that he is not worried about what his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, might tell special counsel Robert Mueller’s team as it investigates Russia’s efforts to influence last year’s election.
When asked by reporters if he was worried about what Flynn might say, Trump replied, “No, I’m not. And what has been shown is no collusion, no collusion. There has been absolutely no collusion. So we’re very happy.”
Flynn pleaded guilty Friday to lying to the FBI about conversations with Russia’s ambassador and disclosed that he is cooperating with the special counsel’s office.
Trump made his brief comments about Flynn’s plea deal before flying to New York for a fund-raiser later Saturday, although he spent most of his time touting the Republican tax plan, which he continued to sell as “the biggest tax cut in the history of our nation.”
The President expanded on his thoughts on Flynn as he left the fund-raising event, tweeting: “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!”
The President’s tweet raised immediate questions on whether he knew Flynn had lied to the FBI when he fired him in February, including a tweet from Walter Shaub, the former director of the United States Office of Government Ethics.
“…just couldn’t resist commenting on Flynn,” Shaub tweeted. “Are you ADMITTING you knew Flynn had lied to the FBI when you asked Comey to back off Flynn?”
Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu, of California, also reacted on Twitter.
“THIS IS OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE,” Lieu tweeted. “@POTUS now admits he KNEW Michael Flynn lied to the FBI. Yet Trump tried to influence or stop the FBI investigation on #Flynn.”
An outside attorney for Trump claimed the President’s tweet paraphrased White House special counsel Ty Cobb’s statement Friday on Flynn’s guilty plea.
“The tweet was a paraphrase of Ty Cobb’s statement yesterday,” the attorney for Trump’s private legal team, John Dowd, told CNN. “I refer you to Comey’s testimony before Congress about FBI view of Flynn’s answers.”
However, Cobb’s statement on Friday does not say anything about Flynn’s lies to the FBI being a factor in his firing.
That statement reads: “Today, Michael Flynn, a former National Security Advisor at the White House for 25 days during the Trump Administration, and a former Obama administration official, entered a guilty plea to a single count of making a false statement to the FBI. The false statements involved mirror the false statements to White House officials which resulted in his resignation in February of this year. 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.”
Trump continued to tweet on Flynn into Saturday night, bringing up allegations against Hillary Clinton and questioning why the Justice Department wasn’t investigating her.
Flynn is the first person in the Trump administration to be reached by Mueller’s probe. The developments are a sign that the investigation is intensifying, and details revealed Friday provide the clearest picture yet of coordination between Flynn and other Trump advisers in their contact with Russian officials to influence international policy.