The Trump Twitter storm that many expected over the weekend after former national security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI has finally come. And it has all the signs of a president in full panic–mode.
It began Saturday evening and continued throughout Sunday morning, after the president already had tweeted out information that appears to either incriminate himself for obstruction of justice or his lawyer, who Trump insiders claim “drafted” the tweet.
Most of the information contained in this new string of tweets seems to either have come directly from Fox News or from comments by Trump supporters on previous tweets. Trump unleashes an attack on the FBI and his own Justice Department, brags about the economy, and claims that former FBI director James Comey was lying when he told members of Congress that the president had tried to talk him out of investigating Flynn. This was after Flynn lied to the FBI about conversations he had with a top Russian diplomat and known spy.
Essentially, it’s a Trump tweet smorgasbord with all of the president’s unhinged greatest hits: fake news, Russian witch hunt, Hillary Clinton, undocumented immigrants, crime, lawsuit threats, and bad punctuation. The president, it seems, may be unraveling. And his lawyers appear unable to stop him.
So, without further ado, here are the relevant ones in the order they were tweeted or retweeted:
The tweet that’s most relevant to Trump’s case states, “I never asked Comey to stop investigating Flynn. Just more Fake News covering another Comey lie!” But we’ve all seen the footage of Comey testifying, under oath, in Congress.
The former head of the FBI is a prolific note–taker who carefully documented his conversations with the president. Trump first spoke with Comey about the Flynn investigation the day after Flynn was fired back in February, after less than a month on the job. The reason the Trump administration had given for Flynn’s firing was that he lied to Vice President Mike Pence about Flynn’s conversations with then Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in December 2016. But that cover story appears to be unraveling, too.
On Saturday, Trump tweeted: “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 that statement, Trump contradicts the earlier version of events put out by the White House. And he appears to admit to obstructing justice because he says he was aware that Flynn had lied to the FBI when Trump tried to influence Comey.
Later on Saturday, members of Trump’s inner circle told The Washington Post that Trump lawyer John Dowd had “drafted the president’s tweet.” But far from clarifying the matter, that claim only further muddied the waters. And Trump’s later tweet storm made it impossible for anyone to claim that someone else had drafted the president’s new tweets.
Also among those tweets, Trump attacked the FBI over Peter Strzok, a former top FBI official and member of special counsel Robert Mueller’s team who was demoted to a desk job after texts were discovered in which he criticized Trump and supported Hillary Clinton. As the Post notes, “Strzok was also a key player in the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server, which ended without charges against her.”
This is the issue Trump refers to when he says, “Now it all starts to make sense!”
One thing is clear after all of this: Any hopes by Trump attorneys that the president will stay off Twitter and remain quiet while Mueller’s investigation ramps up with Flynn’s full cooperation have now evaporated.
Update, 1:06 p.m.: Former Attorney General Eric Holder responded to Trump on Twitter by saying: “Nope. Not letting this go. The FBI’s reputation is not in ‘tatters’. It’s composed of the same dedicated men and women who have always worked there and who do a great, apolitical job. You’ll find integrity and honesty at FBI headquarters and not at 1600 Penn Ave right now.”