President Trump reacted on Saturday afternoon to former national security adviser Michael Flynn pleading guilty to lying to the FBI by saying this is why he had to fire Flynn in February.
“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!” he tweeted.
Flynn, on Friday, entered a guilty plea and pledged to cooperate with with special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.
“There’s been absolutely no collusion so we’re very happy,” he said. “We’ll see what happens.”
Flynn, a 58-year-old retired U.S. Army lieutenant general, accepted responsibility for his actions in a written statement: “My guilty plea and agreement to cooperate with the Special Counsel’s Office reflect a decision I made in the best interests of my family and of our country.”
Immediately after Flynn’s plea, White House lawyer Ty Cobb sought to put distance between Trump and the ex-aide, saying, “Nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn.”
Trump grew close to Flynn during the campaign. The general was a vocal and reliable Trump surrogate, known for leading crowds in “Lock her up” chants regarding Democrat Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. After his election victory, Trump elevated Flynn as his top national security adviser.
But Flynn’s White House tenure was short-lived. He was forced to resign in February following news reports revealing that the Obama administration officials had informed the Trump White House that Flynn had discussed sanctions with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, a fact at odds with the public assertions of Vice President Mike Pence.
In case you missed it, ABC News made headlines for the all of the wrong reasons regarding its reporting on the Flynn plea. The Washington Post went so far as to call “cowardly” the initial “clarification” released by ABC, a statement that later turned into a “correction.”
The initial report said that Trump, while a presidential candidate, ordered Flynn to contact Russians. ABC News later said it was “during the transition.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.