We now know that Donald Trump’s transition team had numerous pre-inauguration contacts with the Russians, and then lied about them. The latest disclosures of team emails, obtained by the New York Times, reveal that the motive was quite clearly to do all it could to make sure that no one could question the legitimacy of Trump’s election, even after it became clear that the Russians had influenced the outcome. As part of that effort, it would make sense for them to hide the fact that the Trump team had any meaningful contact with the Russians during the campaign and the transition.
Trump’s sensitivity to his election’s legitimacy continued after his inauguration. After Trump fired then–National Security Adviser Michael Flynn in February, he said his sole reason for doing so was Flynn ostensibly lying to Vice President Mike Pence about the fact that Flynn had discussed sanctions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
But on Dec. 2, Trump tweeted he had to fire Flynn because “he lied to the Vice President and” — it turns out — “the FBI.” That means the President knew that Flynn had lied to the FBI before he fired him — and before he fired FBI Director James Comey.
Trump’s chief personal lawyer, John Dowd, now says that Trump himself did not write the tweet confessing he knew about Flynn’s lying to the FBI when he fired him. It was Dowd, not Trump, who wrote the Trump tweet after, the New York Times reports, being “in contact with Mr. Trump on Friday and Saturday, trying to calm him after Mr. Flynn’s guilty plea.” It certainly should not surprise anyone that Trump needed calming after the Flynn guilty plea. But it sure is a surprise to hear Trump’s lawyer admit it — another admission harmful to the President.
Now two Trump lawyers have effectively confirmed Trump knew of the Flynn lies when he fired him, despite the range of subsequent denials, reversals and the like. The President has lied over and over again to the American people, with apparent impunity.
All of this brings to mind Trump’s recent backtracking and assertion that maybe he didn’t say those things we all heard him say on the Access Hollywood tapes, even though Trump has admitted they were true and apologized. The President’s lies only lead to more lies. I fear we are deep in the rabbit hole, and there is no telling when we will hit bottom.
In the interim, though, here’s what all this seems to mean for the case against Donald Trump: