President Donald Trump told reporters Monday morning that he feels “very badly” for Michael Flynn, his onetime national security adviser who pleaded guilty last week to making a false statement to the FBI and is cooperating with the Russia investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Trump, who spoke briefly with the White House press pool before boarding Marine One to begin a day trip to Utah, suggested Flynn has been treated unfairly compared to 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
“Well, I feel badly for general Flynn. I feel very badly. He’s led a very strong life and I feel very badly. I will say this, Hillary Clinton lied many times to the FBI. Nothing happened to her. Flynn lied, and they destroyed his life. I think it’s a shame,” Trump said. “Hillary Clinton on the fourth of July weekend went to the FBI, not under oath. It was the most incredible thing anyone’s ever seen. She lied many times, nothing happened to her. Flynn lied and it’s like they ruined his live. It’s very unfair.”
Clinton was interviewed over the fourth of July holiday weekend in 2015 as part of the FBI’s investigation into her use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state. Despite Trump’s assertion to the contrary, then-FBI Director James Comey told the House Oversight Committee in July, 2016, that Clinton had not lied during her interactions with the bureau.
Still, Trump and his allies have regularly accused Clinton of lying, a practice that he started during the campaign, when the president labeled his opponent “Crooked Hillary.” Trump and others, both inside the White House and out, have often worked to redirect questions about the president’s 2016 campaign and allegations of its ties to the Russian government with accusations of wrongdoing by Clinton.
Flynn pleaded guilty last Friday to lying to FBI agents about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. regarding sanctions and a key UN Security Council vote during the presidential transition period.
The former national security adviser’s guilty plea marked a potentially significant turning point in Mueller’s investigation into Trump’s campaign and the 2016 election, given the retired general’s stated willingness to cooperate with the special prosecutor’s office. Trump said on Twitter over the weekend that “it is a shame” that Flynn lied to the FBI regarding his conversations with Russia’s ambassador because his activities has been legal.
“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!”