Did Trump Admit To Obstruction Of Justice? Here's Why Experts Are Saying This Tweet Could Be Troublesome
President Donald Trump's tweets always tend to stir up some anger and plenty of controversy. But his tweets from this weekend could be his worst yet. On Friday, Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, pled guilty to claims that he lied to the FBI, and then 24 hours later Trump took to Twitter to boast that he fired Flynn because of that. But people had to do a double take, because in that tweet, experts are claiming that it seems as though Trump admitted to obstruction of justice. Trump's representatives did not immediately respond to Romper's request for comment.
"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!" Trump tweeted on Saturday.
As previously stated, Flynn pled guilty to charges on Friday for "lying to the FBI about conversations with Russia's ambassador," according to CNN, before Trump took office. Official documents detail that Flynn had communicated with the ambassador to find out where foreign governments stood on a UN Security resolution about Israel, as CNN reported.
And with all of this lingering in the back of many minds, people were quick to point out that it really seems like Trump admitted to obstruction of justice. Attorney Michael Waldman of the Brennan Center of Justice appeared on MSNBC to perfectly sum up why this could be considered obstruction of justice. Waldman said, according to HuffPost:
[Trump] just said that Michael Flynn lying to the FBI was one of the reasons he fired him. Now broaden the horizon. He then asked the then-director of the FBI to drop the investigation — and then he fired the director of the FBI.
As The Hill reported, another legal expert, Richard Painter — an ethics lawyer during President George W. Bush’s administration — tweeted that the POTUS "could be Tweeting himself into an obstruction of justice conviction."
According to TIME, Trump's tweet means that he changed his original story as to why he fired him, explaining:
President Donald Trump changed his story Saturday on why he fired Michael Flynn as his national security adviser, now suggesting he knew at the time that Flynn had lied to the FBI as well as to Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with Russians during the presidential transition. That was a turnabout from his initial explanations that Flynn had to go because he hadn’t been straight with Pence about those contacts.
People, politicians and celebrities alike, quickly took to Twitter to point out that Trump's tweet about Flynn and that seemingly changing his story doesn't necessarily paint Trump in the best light.
Late Saturday evening, Trump's attorney, John Dowd, appeared on ABC News to take responsibility for penning Trump's tweet, stating that he wrote the tweet and posted it to Trump's account, and apologized for tweeting in a "sloppy manner." And on Sunday, Trump took to Twitter again to defend himself and distract everyone from the matter at hand by calling out his former opponent, Hillary Clinton.
"I never asked Comey to stop investigating Flynn!" Trump wrote. "Just more fake news covering another Comey lie!" Trump also criticized the FBI, stating that its reputation is in "tatters."
As a refresher, back in June, then-FBI Director James Comey had reportedly said that Trump asked him months prior to drop the FBI investigation into Flynn, according to CNN. Trump fired Comey in May of this year. Needless to say, this did not go unnoticed by those calling him out on Twitter.
The idea that Trump may or may not have obscured justice is incredibly significant due to the fact that it establishes grounds for impeachment, according to Newsweek. Obstruction of justice, according to The Washington Post, refers to the "actions taken to impede an official investigation," which is a felony offense. To prove obstruction of justice, there needs to be evidence that the person in question tried to impede an investigation corruptly — as in, they knew it was wrong, but did it with corrupt intentions.
But it isn't exactly the easiest crime to make out, according to The Washington Post, due to the fact that it's incredibly hard to prove. Proving obstruction of justice means that federal prosecutors would have to look at all of the facts and circumstances surrounding the case against him, according to CNN, to determine his exact intent. And, as you might imagine, this isn't the easiest process.
This isn't the first time that people have suspected that Trump has been accused of potentially obscuring justice, either. In August, according to Newsweek, people were concerned that Trump could have been accused of obscuring justice after he "fed his son misleading information about a meeting during the campaign connected with the Russian government."
Flynn's guilty plea indicates that major progress is being made into special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, according to The Hill. But only time will tell if Trump's Saturday morning tweet and Sunday morning's defense will play a role, or hold any significance at all in the future.