You’ve probably heard the words “Trump” and “impeachment” getting tossed around over the last couple of days. And something to do with a tweet and bloke named Flynn?
That’s because the Whitehouse is currently fighting off what is arguably the biggest threat to an administration since the Watergate scandal of the 1970s, after Donald Trump posted a tweet that some claim could lead to criminal charges and the downfall of his presidency.
Quick, get me up to speed. What’s the backstory?
OK, so… back in February – just 24 days into the Trump administration – a retired United States Army Lieutenant General named Michael Flynn was forced to step down from his role as the US National Security Advisor.
At the time, President Trump told media he’d requested Flynn’s resignation because he had given an incomplete account to then Vice President-elect Mike Pence of his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during presidential transition period a few months earlier. Essentially, Flynn had denied to Pence that (a) he’d discussed US sanctions against two Russian intelligence services and (b) that he’d asked Kislyak to delay the vote on a United Nations Security Council resolution that would be damaging to Israel.
LISTEN: Mia Freedman and Amelia break down the Flynn fallout, on our Trump podcast. (Post continues below.)
In a dramatic development on Friday, Flynn plead guilty to perjury after admitting he had also lied to the FBI about those conversations during the Bureau’s probe into the Trump campaign’s links with Russia back in December.
In response to the news, a tweet surfaced on President Trump’s account over the weekend that read, “I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has plead guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!”
So, why is the tweet such a big deal?
The crucial bit here is that President Trump has mentioned that he knew Flynn lied to the FBI. He’s never said that before, and for good reason when you look at the sequence of events.
According to a statement previously given to a Senate Estimates Committee by sacked FBI Director James Comey, President Trump asked him to end the Russia/campaign investigation on February 14 – one day after the President had forced Flynn to step down.
In other words, the President has indicated that he knew Flynn had broken the law when he asked Comey to ditch the bureau’s probe into the matter (and then fire him three months later over his refused to do so).
Multiple legal experts and some Democratic lawmakers have said this could constitute an ‘obstruction of justice’; that essentially the President of the United States has unwittingly confessed to a felony in front of millions and millions of witnesses.