Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn is a “wonderful man” who was “treated very, very unfairly by the…fake news,” President Donald Trump said today by way of explaining Flynn’s ouster after just 24 days on the job.
“I think it’s really a sad thing that he was treated so badly,” Trump said in another whiplash-inducing day for Reporters Who Cover the White House. Just one day earlier, they’d been told by the White House that it was Trump who insisted Flynn resign after losing trust in Flynn because he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and others in the administration about his contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S.
Today’s storyline from Trump himself, however, laid responsibility for Flynn’s departure at the feet of the Democrats. “It was a cover-up for the terrible loss that Democrats had under Hillary Clinton,” that caused Flynn to lose his job, POTUS explained at a White House news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Flynn resigned this week, shortly after the Washington Post reported the Justice Department had reviewed Flynn’s conversations with the Russian ambassador and concluded he may have misled Pence and others in the White House which raised concerns he could be susceptible to blackmail.
The leaks to the press are coming “from intelligence,” Trump insisted today, rather than from inside the White House.
One day earlier, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told a room packed with reporters and TV cameras that Trump demanded Flynn’s resignation after losing trust in him, not because the retired Army general broke any laws in discussing Obama administration sanctions against Russia with a rep of that country during the transition period, and then lying about it.
“I think it’s very, very unfair to Gen. Flynn, the way he was treated and the documents and papers that were illegally – I stress that – leaked. Very, very unfair,” Trump said today.
After the newser wrapped, most TV news outlet talking heads were taking Trump at his word, and does not believe Flynn’s assurances to Russia while Obama still was in office is a fire-able offense, nor was lying to Pence. Likewise, White House navel lint gazers came away believing Trump blames the media reporting Flynn’s behavior to the public for forcing him to make a move he otherwise would not have made.
Spicer yesterday acknowledged Trump had known since January 26 that Flynn did not tell Pence the truth when he initially denied he had talked about the sanctions with the Russian Ambassador to the United States while Obama still was in office. That’s the date on which the Justice Department told the White House it believed Flynn did have communications with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. about un-doing the sanctions which could make him vulnerable to blackmail by Russia.
In contraction to Trump’s remarks today, Spicer yesterday insisted Flynn’s resignation was not connected to the WaPo publishing its report earlier that evening, but because POTUS spent weeks going through a “deliberative process” and moved swiftly once he’d made his decision.
Trump’s remarks at today’s news conference suggest otherwise.
Today’s presser marks Trump’s third news conference with a foreign leader that has been derailed by the Flynn story. And it’s the third news conference with a foreign leader in which Trump picked representatives of conservative media outlets who did not press the president on the issue, guaranteeing the Flynn story continues to upstage these events. Today, at least, Flynn’s name came up, in a pretzel-esque question asked by a columnist from Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network. David Brody noted both politicians have criticized former President Obama’s Iran nuclear deal and even called for its repeal. Brody wondered if either man is concerned, “as it relates to not just the National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who is recently no longer here,” but also “some of those events that have been going on with communications with Russia,” and wondered if that would hamper” their efforts to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear state.