Donald Trump can’t say he wasn’t warned.
In the hours after former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to a charge of lying to federal investigators, reports indicated that Trump was told to remain silent on the issue and not go on Twitter. As Business Insider reported, staffers urged the president not to share his thoughts on his favorite social medium, where his off-the-cuff remarks have often gotten him in trouble.
It only lasted a few hours before falling apart in epic fashion. Early on Saturday, Trump shared his thoughts on Flynn’s conviction on Twitter, and in doing so, experts believe he just offered concrete evidence that he had committed obstruction of justice. In the tweet, Trump admitted that he knew Flynn had lied to the FBI about the Russian meeting that took place late last year. When Flynn was originally fired, Trump said it took place because Flynn had lied to Vice President Mike Pence.
“I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies,” Trump tweeted. “It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!”
But in admitting that he knew Flynn committed a felony in lying to the FBI, Trump also appeared to confess to trying to obstruct the investigation into Flynn, The Hill noted. Earlier this year, now-former FBI Director James Comey leaked a memo that showed Trump tried to get him and the FBI to back off of investigating Flynn, even though Trump now claims he knew Flynn was guilty of a crime.
Comey later testified before Congress that Trump had asked him to back off of Flynn the day before he ended up asking for Flynn’s resignation.
Experts said Trump’s statement — as tweets count as official statements from the office of the president — amounts to an admission of obstruction of justice.
“Oh my god, he just admitted to obstruction of justice,” former Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller tweeted on Saturday. “If Trump knew Flynn lied to the FBI when he asked Comey to let it go, then there is your case.”
While Michael Flynn is now the second member close to Trump to be ensnared in the Russia probe after former campaign manager Paul Manafort was charged with money laundering, there has not yet been any public evidence released showing any connection between Trump himself and Russian officials.