Dec. 2 (UPI) — President Donald Trump on Saturday said he is not concerned that Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser, is cooperating with a special counselor’s investigation after pleading guilty to making false statements to the FBI because there was “absolutely no collusion.”
Trump was asked by reporters while departing the White House to New York for a fundraiser whether he was worried what Flynn would tell special counsel Robert Mueller and his investigation looking into Russia’s efforts to influence last year’s election.
“No, I’m not,” he responded from the South Lawn. “And what has been shown is no collusion, no collusion. There has been absolutely no collusion. So we’re very happy.”
It was the only question by the media about the investigation.
Then in New York City, he elaborated.
Trump posted on Twitter while in a motorcade in Manhattan: “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!?”
In the past, Trump only said Flynn departed because he lied to Vice President Mike Pence.
“THIS IS OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE,” California Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu posted on Twitter. “@POTUS now admits he KNEW Michael Flynn lied to the FBI. Yet Trump tried to influence or stop the FBI investigation on #Flynn.”
Walter Shaub, a former director of the United States Office of Government Ethics, wrote on Twitter: “Are you ADMITTING you knew Flynn had lied to the FBI when you asked Comey to back off Flynn?”
He was referring to James Comey, who was directing the investigation of possible collusion between Russia and Trump’s campaign staff until he was fired as FBI director.
John Dowd, an attorney for Trump’s private legal team, told CNN that the president’s tweet “was a paraphrase” of a statement by White House special counsel Ty Cobb.
The statement doesn’t refer to lying to the FBI but does mention “the false statements involved mirror the false statements to White House officials which resulted in his resignation in February of this year.”
Flynn, a retired general, pleaded guilty Friday to making “false, fictitious and fraudulent statements” to the FBI on Jan. 24 about conversations with Russia’s ambassador Sergey Kislyak one month before Trump took office on Jan. 20. Flynn said he did not recall Kislyak telling him of a change in Russia’s response to U.S.-imposed economic sanctions the two previously discussed.
Flynn was forced to resign on Feb. 13 as national security adviser after 24 days on the job.
Trump told NBC News in May that “I was going to fire Comey knowing there was no good time to do it” and
“I said to myself — I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.”
A plea agreement suggests that Flynn provided information to prosecutors beneficial to Mueller’s investigation.
In at least one instance, prosecutors say Flynn was directed by a “very senior member” of the presidential transition team to discuss a United Nations resolution on whether to condemn Israel’s building of settlements. That unnamed aide is believed to beTrump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, according to a lawyer briefed on the matter to The New York Times.