President Donald Trump made his first public comments about his former national security adviser Michael Flynn after Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI for speaking to Russian officials, suggesting for the first time that Trump knew that Flynn had lied to the agency at the time Flynn was fired.
"I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the vice president and the FBI," Trump tweeted. "He has pleaded guilty to those lies." It's a shame because his actions during the transition were legal. There was nothing to hide! "
Trump dismissed Flynn on February 13 and at that time said it was because Flynn had cheated Vice President Mike Pence on his conversations with Russian officials on sanctions Three days later, The Washington Post reported that Flynn had lied to him to the FBI on those conversations.
Related: Michael Flynn pleads guilty to lying to the FBI in Mueller's investigation
The tweet was a move away from Trump's previous support to Flynn, in the election campaign and then He suggested that he knew Flynn had lied to the FBI – a felony – when, on February 14, Trump asked FBI Director James Comey to close the Flynn investigation, The New York Times reported. before Congress in June that the president had pressed him to be lenient with Flynn.
"The president then went back to the subject of Mike Flynn, saying: & # 39; It's a good guy and has gone through many things ", said the written testimony of Comey. "He repeated that Flynn had not done anything wrong in his calls to the Russians, but he had cheated the vice president, then he said:" I hope you can see your way clear to let this go, let Flynn go. I hope you can leave this like that. "
But when Trump was asked on Saturday morning if he still supported Flynn, one of his first followers, the president laughed.
"We'll see what happens," he said.
The president added that he was not worried about the verdict and claimed that Flynn's plea of guilt proved that his campaign did not collude with the Russian government during the elections.
"No, I'm not," Trump said when asked if he was worried about Flynn talking to the special lawyer. "And what has been demonstrated is not collusion, there is no collusion, there has been absolutely, there has been absolutely no collusion, so we are very happy."
Related: What does Flynn's guilty plea mean to Trump and the Republican Party
According to court documents, Flynn twice lied to the FBI about his interactions with Russian Ambbadador Sergey Kslyak. Flynn falsely said he had not asked Kislyak "to refrain from intensifying the situation" in response to sanctions that the United States had imposed on Russia on December 29, three weeks before the Trump administration took office.
Court documents also say that Flynn lied when he said he had not asked Kislylak "Delay a vote or a defeat" in a resolution of the Security Council. of the UN on December 22.
On both occasions, Flynn sought advice with Trump's senior transition officials before speaking with Russian diplomat Kislyak. According to three people familiar with the matter, one of the people in the transition team with whom Flynn spoke is Trump's son-in-law and principal counselor, Jared Kushner. Two people familiar with the matter said that another transitional official referred to in the court documents is K.T. McFarland, who served as deputy national security adviser for five months and is now the candidate to become the next US ambbadador. UU In Singapore.
According to the charges, Flynn lied to the FBI two days after being sworn in as Trump's national security adviser.
Since Mueller's investigation began in May, Flynn is the first senior White House official in charge of investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. He is also the first official to agree to cooperate fully with the investigation.
A source close to the Trump administration told NBC News that the White House was "sidelined" by Flynn's guilty plea.