Donald Trump says he feels 'very badly' for Michael Flynn and says the FBI has destroyed his life

Mr Flynn pleaded guilty last week to lying to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador

Alexandra Wilts
Washington DC
Monday 04 December 2017 20:56 GMT
Trump: 'Hillary Clinton lied many times to the FBI. Nothing happened to her. Flynn lied and they destroyed his life.'

President Donald Trump is working to downplay his ex-national security adviser’s guilty plea in the Russia investigation by lashing out at Hillary Clinton, suggesting the system is “rigged” if she got away with the “lies” she told the FBI.

The president contrasted that while Michael Flynn’s “life is destroyed” for the false statements he made. Mr Flynn pleaded guilty last week to lying to the FBI as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into alleged ties between Russia and Trump campaign advisers.

In typical Trump fashion, the President has sought to refocus the public’s attention on the FBI’s investigation last year into Ms Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was Secretary of State - an inquiry that did not elicit any indictments or a guilty plea, unlike the Trump-Russia probe.

“So General Flynn lies to the FBI and his life is destroyed,” Mr Trump said, “while Crooked Hillary Clinton, on that now famous FBI holiday ‘interrogation’ with no swearing in and no recording, lies many times...and nothing happens to her? Rigged system, or just a double standard?”

The FBI has not charged Ms Clinton with making any false statements.

According to court documents, Mr Flynn lied telling the Russian ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak, to moderate Russia’s response to US sanctions that had been imposed the same day by former President Barack Obama. He also lied when he said he didn’t ask Mr Kislyak to delay or defeat an unrelated United Nations Security Council vote. Both contacts happened in December 2016, when Mr Trump was preparing to take office.

On Monday, Mr Trump said he feels “very badly” for Mr Flynn.

“I think it’s a shame,” Mr Trump said of Mr Flynn’s situation, adding that it’s “very unfair” and that the ex-official had “led a very strong life.”

Mr Flynn’s conduct was the reason why he was forced to resign from his White House role in February - after it was publicly revealed that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with Mr Kislyak.

“I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies,” Mr Trump wrote in tweet over the weekend. “It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!”

The federal investigation started as a probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, but has expanded to include investigation of possibly collusion between Trump campaign officials and Russia - as well as a number of other issues. Mr Flynn is the fourth person to have been charged in relation to the investigation.

In October, Mr Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and his associate Rick Gates, were charged with 12 counts of financial crimes related to their work in Ukraine, charges they both deny. Foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos has also pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about contacts with Russia-linked individuals – a similar charge that Mr Flynn admitted to as part of the plea deal.

Mr Trump has insisted there was no collusion between his advisers and the Russian government. And the Kremlin has said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision not to retaliate against the sanctions was not influenced by Mr Flynn.

“Of course Putin took the decision, it was his decision,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, according to Reuters. “It (the decision) could not have been connected to any requests or recommendations. The president takes his decisions absolutely independently.”

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