As Republican lawmakers and conservative media continue their attack on special counsel Robert Mueller, President Trump with one word sent a signal that could undermine Mueller’s investigation, holding out the possibility of a pardon for former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Flynn is believed to be a key witness in the probe of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
In brief comments to reporters on the White House lawn Friday morning, Trump also threw out an attack on the Department of Justice and the FBI.
“I don’t want to talk about pardons of Michael Flynn yet,” Trump said, responding to a question. “We’ll see what happens. Let’s see.”
Flynn, an early supporter of Trump’s presidential bid, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russian and is reportedly cooperating with Mueller’s investigation. A presidential pardon could remove Flynn’s incentive to continue his cooperation. Trump has stood by Flynn despite firing him less than a month into his administration, telling the general to “stay strong” as investigators circled him. Trump has previously pardoned Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a supporter who was convicted of criminal contempt for illegally detaining immigrants.
On his way to the FBI graduation ceremony in Quantico, Va., Trump also attacked the agency that is currently investigating him.
“We’re going to rebuild the FBI and make it bigger and better than ever,” said Trump, “but it is very sad when you look at those documents, it’s really, really disgraceful and you have a lot of very angry people that are seeing it. It’s a very sad thing to watch, I will tell you that.”
Trump was apparently referring to text messages released by the Department of Justice showing that one of the agents investigating his campaign had earlier made negative remarks about him. The agent was removed from the investigation. A subsequent release of text messages showed he had not limited his insults to Trump but had also criticized Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Democratic presidential candidate last year, and former Attorney General Eric Holder, also a Democrat.
“I’m going today on behalf of the FBI,” continued Trump, “their new building, when everybody — not me — when everybody, the level of anger at what they’ve been witnessing with respect to the FBI is certainly very sad.”
In that remark, Trump was likely referencing the reaction on Fox News, which according to a New York Times report he watches for up to eight hours per day. The conservative network has questioned the legitimacy of the FBI over the last few weeks, with a contributor calling for it to be shut down and an anchor urging a “cleansing” at the Department of Justice. During his comments Friday morning Trump also said that it had been proven there was no collusion between his campaign and Russia — which is the very question under investigation.
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