President Donald Trump gloated in a tweet Saturday that he fired Michael Flynn because he knew his national security adviser had lied to the FBI. If that was the case, Trump’s reported attempt to stop former FBI Director James Comey’s investigation of Flynn could constitute obstruction of justice, legal experts warned.
The tweet was apparently triggering enough concern that the president’s personal attorney John Dowd came forward late Saturday to tell ABC News that he had actually written the tweet, which he called “sloppy.” The Washington Post also reported that two unnamed sources told the newspaper that Dowd was responsible for the message. The White House hasn’t commented.
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 2, 2017
Rep. Ted Lieu (R-Calif.) was among those who blasted the tweet, assuming it was penned by Trump and saying flatly: “This is obstruction of justice.”
“Oh my god,” tweeted Matthew Miller, a former Department of Justice official. “He just admitted to obstruction of justice.”
Oh my god, he just admitted to obstruction of justice. If Trump knew Flynn lied to the FBI when he asked Comey to let it go, then there is your case. https://t.co/c6Wtd0TfzW
— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) December 2, 2017
Obama administration ethics chief Walter Shaub and Richard Painter, the top ethics lawyer during President George W. Bush’s administration, were also stunned by the tweet on @realDonaldTrump.
…just couldn’t resist commenting on Flynn.
Are you ADMITTING you knew Flynn had lied to the FBI when you asked Comey to back off Flynn??????????????????????????????????????????? https://t.co/HJWlUvC99F
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) December 2, 2017
Attorney Michael Waldman of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University quipped on MSNBC that Trump was going to “regret that Twitter expanded to 280 characters, giving him more room to confess to obstruction of justice in his tweets.”
Trump “just said that Michael Flynn lying to the FBI was one of the reasons he fired him,” Waldman added. “Broaden the time horizon: He then asked the then-director of the FBI to drop the investigation — and then he fired the director of the FBI.”
Even Comey posted one of his mysterious zen-like social media…