Even an indictment and subsequent guilty plea aren't enough to definitively vanquish Donald Trump's support.
Disgraced former national security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty Friday to charges of lying to the FBI in its investigation of Russia’s interference in the U.S. presidential election.
Specifically, the indictment noted that Flynn “did willfully and knowingly make materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent statements and representations” regarding his contacts and communications on sanctions with a Russian ambassador.
That is a stunningly serious charge — and yet it was not enough to sever Donald Trump’s seemingly ironclad support for Flynn.
Speaking to the media Saturday morning, rather than denounce Flynn and his actions, Trump only repeated his “no collusion” mantra and offered a weaselly “we’ll see” about his support for the man who may be safeguarding Trump’s own Russia secrets.
REPORTER: Mr. President, are you concerned about what Michael Flynn might tell the special counsel?
TRUMP: No, I’m not, and what has been shown is no collusion, no collusion. There’s been absolutely — there’s been absolutely no collusion. So we’re very happy. And frankly, last night was one of the big nights.
REPORTER: Do you still stand by Michael Flynn, sir?
TRUMP: We’ll see what happens.
This vague statement stands in contrast to those from Trump’s own team, which has desperately tried to create distance between Trump and Flynn.
White House officials took the baffling path of attempting to pin Flynn’s misdeeds on President Barack Obama by noting that Flynn had worked in the Obama administration and claiming that Flynn had the blessing of Obama’s team to do what he did.
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper smacked that nonsense down, calling it “absolutely absurd” and pointing out that Flynn was fired from his post under Obama.
Indeed, the Obama administration tried to warn Trump about Flynn, and urged him not to hire the man.
But Trump’s loyalty to Flynn has remained disturbingly steadfast. After Flynn was forced out of his position as National Security Adviser, Trump lamented that it was “very, very unfair” what was happening to a “wonderful” man like Flynn.
And time and time again, Trump has praised and supported Flynn publicly and unashamedly.
Even now, after federal charges and a guilty plea, Trump still cannot bring himself to fully repudiate Flynn.
One has to wonder why.