When Michael Flynn finalized his plea deal yesterday in the Trump-Russia scandal, he didn’t merely screw Donald Trump and his family. Flynn’s confession, and the evidence he’s providing, will leave a whole lot of other people in Trump’s orbit screwed as well. This may explain why the White House Counsel is cracking up in the wake of the Flynn news – which has only been made even more complicated by Donald Trump’s stunning confession on Twitter today.
Sally Yates has publicly testified before Congress that when she was Acting Attorney General in early 2017, she personally informed White House Counsel Don McGahn that Michael Flynn was an alleged criminal and that he should be removed from his National Security Adviser position. McGahn passed this information along to Donald Trump, who responded not by firing Flynn, but by firing Yates in order to protect Flynn. Now, however, McGahn is asserting an entirely different version of the story, even as Trump just unwittingly took Yates side.
Here’s what New York Times reporter Michael S. Schmidt tweeted about the matter on Friday: “According to person close to McGahn, he is ‘shocked and furious that Yates didn’t tell him Flynn committed a federal crime.’ The person told me: ‘The protocol is clear: if Yates and DOJ believed he committed a federal crime than his clearance would have been pulled immediately.'” (link). So McGahn’s position is that Yates didn’t go far enough in warning him about Flynn. This was shaping up to be a he said, she said situation until Trump jumped on Twitter today.
This morning Donald Trump tweeted “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!” So now Trump is admitting that he knew Michael Flynn had lied to the FBI, which implies that he heard it from Yates via McGahn. Yet McGahn is claiming that Yates didn’t actually tell him this to begin with. Trump just unwittingly confessed to obstruction of justice with his tweet – but did he incriminate his own White House Counsel as well?
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report