Yesterday morning, Donald Trump wrote a panicked tweet about Michael Flynn in which he unwittingly confessed to felony obstruction of justice. Last night, Trump belatedly claimed that his attorney John Dowd wrote the tweet, even though few believe him. This morning, Dowd confirmed that he (supposedly) wrote the tweet. Then, in his own panicked attempt to explain what happened, Dowd threw White House Counsel Don McGahn under the bus.
Trump admitted on Twitter that he knew all along that Flynn had lied to the FBI, which is a felony. Trump had this knowledge when he asked the FBI Director to let Flynn off the hook, which means that Trump knew he was trying to obstruct justice when he made the request. After Dowd fell on his sword by claiming the he wrote Trump’s tweet, he then turned around and tried to explain himself to NBC News.
Dowd told NBC that when Acting Attorney General Sally Yates tried to warn White House Counsel Don McGahn about Flynn earlier this year, she told McGahn that Flynn had “given the agents the same story he gave the Vice President.” (link) Trump quickly fired Yates to try to protect Flynn. But when the media got wind of some of Flynn’s Russia crimes anyway, Trump fired Flynn under the premise that Flynn had lied to Vice President Mike Pence. In other words, this is a convoluted confirmation by Trump’s attorney that both Trump and McGahn knew Flynn had committed the crime of lying to the FBI.
This puts Don McGahn in an incredibly difficult position. He was interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller earlier this week, before Flynn’s plea deal became official. It’s unknown if McGahn told the full truth about the Flynn matter or if he lied. If it’s the latter, then McGahn has committed a felony, and Mueller will force him to cut a plea deal of his own. On the other hand, even if McGahn told Mueller the truth, he would be admitting that he knew Flynn was guilty when he helped Trump cover up various aspects of the Trump-Russia scandal, which could be viewed as a crime in its own right.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report