Sunday, March 15, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He lied about the FBI and the Department of Justice.

With much of the country coming to terms with the reality of life during the coronavirus outbreak, and the Trump administration's handling of it, Trump himself used the opportunity to test the political waters for pardoning one of the key figures connecting him to Russia's attack on the 2016 election.

There is no evidence whatsoever that the government—Trump's government, under Trump-appointed attorneys general—has "lost" any evidence with respect to Flynn. Trump appears to have made it up, or to be listening to someone who did.

Flynn, an Army general who was fired by the Obama administration, attached himself to Trump during the campaign. While part of Trump's inner circle, he secretly worked as a lobbyist for Turkey and accepted "speaking fees" from Russian sources—both legal activities that he illegally concealed from the public. His role as a go-between for the Trump campaign and the Russian government was detailed in the Mueller report. After being named Trump's national security advisor, Flynn was identified as a likely target of Russian blackmail by then-Acting Attorney General Sally Yates in the first days of the Trump administration. Trump immediately fired Yates, but was forced only days later to fire Flynn as well.

Flynn entered into a plea bargain with federal prosecutors, who allowed him to plead guilty to a single count of making false statements in exchange for his cooperation with other criminal investigations. He has since tried to recant that guilty plea.

Virtually all of the pardons that Trump has issued so far have either been to political allies, or people convicted of the same crimes (tax fraud, perjury, obstruction of justice, corruption, and bribery, for example) that he himself has been credibly accused of.

Why does this matter?

  • It doesn't get much more corrupt than using your political office to help your suspected collaborators escape justice.
  • It's wrong to lie to try to undermine Americans' faith in their government.