A nervous White House suddenly signals that it's sympathetic to Mike Flynn's legal woes.
Donald Trump on Monday suddenly expressed sympathy for former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI Friday, saying it was “very unfair” of federal investigators to prosecute him.
Trump’s reversal came after declaring on Saturday that he had fired Flynn for lying to the FBI.
By Monday, though, Trump was back to lamenting how Flynn’s life had supposedly been “destroyed,” adding, “It’s a shame.”
“I feel very badly for General Flynn,” Trump told reporters as he left the White House. “I feel very badly. He’s led a very strong life, and I feel very badly.”
Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Nobody connected to the White House has offered up any explanation of why Trump’s then-national security adviser would lie about his previous contacts with Russian operatives.
Engaging in classic whataboutism, the type of misdirection the Vladimir Putin prefers, Trump on Monday soon added, “I will say this: Hillary Clinton lied many times to the FBI. Nothing happened to her. Flynn lied, and they destroyed his life. I think it’s a shame.”
Fact: Clinton never lied to the FBI.
Trump has long supported and defended Flynn as a “wonderful man” who had been treated “unfairly.” His Saturday tweet, in which he claimed to have fired Flynn for lying, was a departure from his usual sympathies.
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
That same day, the president said he and his team were “very happy” about the Flynn announcement because “what has been shown is no collusion, no collusion.” That part, of course, is not true. Flynn is in fact the second member of Trump’s campaign team to have pleaded guilty to lying about contacts with Russia.
But 48 hours after acknowledging Flynn’s lies, Trump is back to signaling to Flynn just how sympathetic he is to Flynn’s cause.
What happened during those 48 hours? Lots of weird stuff, one of them being that Flynn-related tweet where Trump seemed to suggest he knew Flynn had lied to the FBI last winter, yet Trump still went ahead and asked then-FBI Director James Comey go easy on Flynn during his investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign last year.
“I hope you can let this go,” is what Comey recalls Trump telling him about Flynn.
Trying to clean up the Twitter mess on Sunday, Trump attorney John Dowd insisted he had written the Trump tweet in question. Muddying the waters even more, Dowd on Monday announced that even if Trump did obstruct justice and try to interfere with an ongoing investigation, it wouldn’t matter because presidents have the “right” to do so.
And now comes the Trump 180 with regards to convicted felon Flynn. On Saturday, Trump was “happy” about the news. But on Monday, he thinks it’s a “shame” how “unfair” Flynn is being treated by the suddenly unethical prosecutors — despite Flynn’s own admission of guilt.
That looks like a White House that’s in panic mode.