As Mueller probe deepens, Trump says he didn't ask Comey to stop investigating Flynn

Laura King, Tribune Washington Bureau on

Published in Political News

The response to major developments in the Mueller investigation has often diverged along partisan lines. But Flynn's guilty plea, which for the first time takes the investigation inside the White House, drew cautionary language from some Republican GOP.

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., said on CNN that he agreed with those who said Trump should not pardon Flynn.

"We have to have a way to restore confidence of the American people in their elected officials and the leaders of this country," he said. "One way you do that is by holding those folks who are ... lying to the FBI, you hold those folks accountable."

Senior White House aides have acknowledged their inability to rein in the president, but Trump's penchant for off-the-cuff observations could have serious implications for his own legal standing in the ongoing Mueller investigation.

On Saturday night, Trump posted that he had been forced to fire Flynn because the former Army lieutenant general had lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with Sergey Kislyak, then Russia's envoy to the U.S. But Trump also blamed the firing on Flynn having lied to the FBI, which the White House had not previously acknowledged knowing at that point. One of Trump's frequent critics, former Office of Government Ethics head Walter Shaub, seized on Trump's post, asking in his own: "Are you ADMITTING you knew Flynn had lied to the FBI when you asked Comey to back off Flynn?"

A number of legal experts said such an admission by Trump could expose him to accusations of obstructing justice.


Seeking to defuse the controversy, the president's personal lawyer, John Dowd, told ABC News that he drafted the tweet on Flynn's dismissal, characterizing it as "sloppy."

Also Sunday, Trump cast doubt on the impartiality of Mueller's investigation, citing reports that FBI agent Peter Strzok had been removed from the special counsel's team after an internal investigation of text messages he reportedly wrote that were interpreted as being critical of Trump. Mueller's office confirmed that Strzok was reassigned in late July.

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