The Russia investigation, as led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, is continuing whether Trump likes it or not, and it’s now come out that there apparently really is a good reason for the president to worry about it.
Last Friday, former national security adviser to Trump Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and agreed to fully cooperate with Mueller’s investigation. Flynn lied about whether or not he had spoken about U.S. sanctions on Russia with the now former Russian Ambassador to the United States, Sergei Kislyak.
Although Flynn initially insisted otherwise, he had, in fact, done so in communications that took place between Trump’s election and his inauguration. The sanctions in question had been imposed by the Obama Administration in retaliation for Russia having meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections; the president has, of course, long been opposed to acknowledging the seriousness of that meddling, and that opposition extends to his pre-inauguration team, for good reason — Russian efforts helped Trump win.
Flynn, through Kislyak, urged the Russian government to exercise restraint in responding to the sanctions, something that the Russians eventually agreed to, earning praise from Trump.
The question is — how deeply in on the whole scheme, including Flynn lying about his private communications with Kislyak to the FBI, was Trump?
Now, a source has revealed to CNN that all the way back in January, White House counsel Donald McGahn apparently “told Trump that based on his conversation with then-acting Attorney General Sally Yates, he believed Flynn had not told the truth in his interview with the FBI or to Pence.” Thus, McGahn said at the time, Flynn “should be fired.”
This poses a big problem for the president, since it means that if, as is credibly alleged, he pressured now former FBI Director James Comey to drop an investigation into Flynn earlier this year, he knew at the time that he was pressuring Comey to abandon an investigation into criminal misdeeds. Not that there was much supporting such a theory to begin with, but whatever Trump said to Comey wasn’t, according to all available evidence, just casual small talk.
White House special counsel Ty Cobb declined to fully address the allegations in response to being pressed by CNN, commenting:
‘I believe the facts exonerate the President and I’m not going to debate these important issues between the White House and the special counsel in the press.’
Trump’s personal attorney, John Dowd, declined to comment altogether when pressed by CNN, but he did comment in an interview with Axios published on Monday that he somehow does not believe that the president can be guilty of obstruction of justice.
Dowd has suspiciously claimed to have been the author of a tweet posted to Trump’s personal account on Saturday that makes it seemingly clear that Trump knew Flynn had lied to the FBI at some point before he actually got around to firing him.
The anonymous source speaking to CNN indicates that the DOJ didn’t initially pass on to McGahn the details of their interactions with Flynn.
Apparently, McGahn only received confirmation of Flynn’s lies about a week after he first approached President Trump.
It’s not as though Trump has ever proven himself to be particularly concerned with respecting the U.S. justice system — he fired Yates earlier this year after she refused to enforce his illegal Muslim ban.
Yates eventually testified about her warnings to the White House before Congress.
Featured Image via Shawn Thew/ Pool via Bloomberg