WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump told reporters on Monday that he feels “very badly” for Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is now cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller in his probe of potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
“I feel badly for General Flynn. I feel very badly. He’s led a very strong life and I feel very badly,” Trump said. “I will say this, Hillary Clinton lied many times to the FBI. Nothing happened to her. Flynn lied and they destroyed his life. I think it’s a shame.”
Trump is expected to say more later on Monday, as he travels to Utah. Over the weekend, he tweeted out a statement on Flynn’s guilty plea, writing on Saturday, “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!” Flynn was fired from his post as national security adviser in February,
Trump’s admission that he knew Flynn had lied to the FBI triggered a lot of reaction as to whether it would provide fresh evidence for an obstruction of justice investigation. James Comey has said that when he was FBI director, he met with Trump the day after Flynn was fired and Trump said, of the Flynn investigation, “I hope you can let this go.”
Trump on Sunday denied that he asked Comey to fire Flynn. “I never asked Comey to stop investigating Flynn. Just more Fake News covering another Comey lie!” Trump said Sunday on Twitter.
Trump’s lawyer John Dowd said that he drafted Trump’s Saturday tweet, but told Axios that the president “cannot obstruct justice” as the chief law enforcement officer under the Constitution and that he “has every right to express his view of any case.”
Trump claims that Clinton was given special treatment after the FBI declined to press charges against her in their investigation of a use of a private email server while she was secretary of state. But Clinton and many of her campaign associates say that Comey’s decision to reopen the investigation less than two weeks before the election may have tilted the campaign in Trump’s favor.
Comey told the House Oversight Committee in July, 2016, that after interviewing Clinton about her use of e-mails, “We have no basis to conclude that she lied to the FBI.”
Flynn pleaded guilty on Friday to one count of lying to the FBI about the nature of his contact with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in December. In fact, Flynn asked Kislyak if Russia could moderate its response to sanctions that the Obama administration was imposing. He also asked Kislyak to delay a UN Security Council resolution vote condemning Israeli settlements.