The bombshell guilty plea by Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn on Friday for lying to the FBI signals a monumental shift forward for special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.
It means that the investigation of ties to Russia by members of Trump’s inner circle has now extended into the White House, with Flynn acknowledging that he is fully cooperating with Mueller’s team. And there is no one who should be more scared about this than Donald Trump.
In fact, legal experts say that Trump should now respond to the latest damning news by just shutting up. While the president was able to control his usual manic Saturday morning outbursts on Twitter, he did comment to reporters before leaving for an RNC fundraising speech in New York.
In that exchange, asked by a reporter if he is worried what Flynn, who has now flipped and is a government witness, would tell investigators, Trump said, “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. And, frankly, last night was one of the big nights. We’ll see what happens,” Trump said, CNN reported.
Trump, who recently said he believed Mueller’s probe would be wrapped up by Christmas, repeated the claim about no collusion, almost as if to reassure himself that things would be OK, instead of trying to sway skeptic reporters. He also attacked Hillary Clinton, a default Trump obsession.
“All I can tell you is this: There was no collusion. There was no nothing,” Trump said. “It’s a disgrace, frankly, that they continue. You oughta look at Hillary Clinton, and you oughta look at the new book that was just put out by Donna Brazile, where she basically bought the DNC and she sold the election from Bernie. That’s what you oughta take a look at.”
But Trump’s Twitter fingers didn’t hold out all day, as the president tweeted shortly after midday that he had fired Flynn “because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI.” Trump also claimed that the repeated discussions Flynn had before taking office with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, an experienced counterintelligence agent for the Kremlin, “were lawful.”
Jill Wine-Banks, a former Watergate prosecutor, told MSNBC Live that the president’s statements are “a complete misrepresentation of what the plea deal shows.”
“The word is conspiracy, and we need to start calling it what it really is,” Wine-Banks said. “And obstruction of justice. That’s what brought down the Nixon administration, and there is plenty of evidence of obstruction of justice.”
After news of Flynn’s flip broke on Friday, Trump’s lawyer, Ty Cobb, continued his efforts to keep Trump’s head in the sand about how much legal danger he’s really in. Cobb issued a statement that absurdly tried to link Flynn’s actions to the administration of President Barack Obama and downplay the depth of Flynn’s lenient plea deal.
“The false statements involved mirror the false statements to White House officials which resulted in his resignation in February of this year,” Cobb said, as reported by Politico. “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.”
Keep dreaming, buddy. But you might want to advise your client to stop talking.