Friday, December 1, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He hid from the press but insisted that Michael Flynn was no threat to him.

Michael Flynn pleaded guilty today to a single count of lying to the FBI. He is now cooperating with the special counsel's investigation into whether Trump or any of his associates conspired with Russia during that country's interference in the election that brought Trump to power.

Trump was scheduled for a routine press appearance around noon today, but it was abruptly canceled. Aides later blamed a scheduling error, but the White House has refused to comment at all on the Flynn plea. Instead, Trump's personal defense attorney, Ty Cobb, released a statement on Trump's behalf:
Today, Michael Flynn, a former national security adviser at the White House for 25 days during the Trump Administration, and a former Obama administration official, entered a guilty plea to a single count of making a false statement to the FBI. The false statements involved mirror the false statements to White House officials which resulted in his resignation in February of this year. Nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn. The conclusion of this phase of the special counsel's work demonstrates again that the special counsel is moving with all deliberate speed and clears the way for a prompt and reasonable conclusion.
Cobb is correct that the charging document and statement of offense are extremely brief and almost entirely devoid of any information not directly related to the single charge of lying Flynn faces. Prosecutors who are making plea deals with "flipped" witnesses against bigger targets have an incentive to say as little as possible in such filings, because the less their targets know about the state of the investigation the better.

But even that bare minimum of information released in the statement of offense directly implicates several "senior" and "very senior" members of the transition team in criminal acts. One of these figures is apparently Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, who ordered Flynn before Trump's inauguration to lobby foreign countries (including Russia) on a United Nations vote about Israeli settlements. It is illegal for private citizens to interfere in U.S. foreign policy.

So what?

  • It's bad when a president hides from the press--even if he has good reason to be afraid of the questions they'd ask.