President Donald Trump said Monday that he sympathizes with Michael Flynn, his former National Security Adviser who on Friday pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI regarding an investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
“I feel badly for Gen. Flynn. I feel very badly,” Trump said Monday. “He’s led a very strong life, and I feel very badly about it. I will say this. Hillary Clinton lied many times to the FBI and nothing happened to her. Flynn lied, and it destroyed his life, and I think it’s a shame.”
White House Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office announced Friday that Flynn had pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about his Dec. 2016 conversation with Russia’s then-ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak. Flynn has since agreed to cooperate with the Special Counsel’s ongoing investigation into Russia’s election meddling. (Prosecutors also said Flynn was guilty of making false statements when he filed documents pertaining to the Foreign Agent Registration Act, though he does not face charges over that matter.)
Trump responded to Flynn’s guilty plea Saturday, tweeting that he had fired Flynn because Flynn had lied to both Vice President Mike Pence and the FBI regarding his contact with Kislyak. The tweet made headlines, as the White House previously said Flynn had been fired solely because he lied to Pence, not because he lied to the FBI.
Some legal experts argue that Trump openly acknowledging that he was aware Flynn lied to the FBI when he fired Flynn could constitute obstruction of justice, as Comey previously said Trump asked him to halt investigations into Flynn.
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 2, 2017
Trump on Sunday denied that he had ever asked Comey to stop investigating Flynn, calling the allegation “just more Fake News covering another Comey lie!”
I never asked Comey to stop investigating Flynn. Just more Fake News covering another Comey lie!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 3, 2017
Former FBI Director James Comey told Congress last year that Clinton did not lie to the FBI regarding her private email server and the use of classified information. “We have no basis to conclude she lied to the FBI,” Comey told then-Congressman Jason Chaffetz in July 2016, according to video from the hearing.