Tue, Dec 05, 2017 - Page 7 News List

Trump Russia tweets draw concern

INCRIMINATING?Trump’s tweet about firing Flynn for lying to the FBI, which could bolster an obstruction of justice charge, was allegedly crafted by his attorney

Reuters, WASHINGTON and NEW YORK

A series of tweets by US President Donald Trump on Sunday about the investigation into contacts between his campaign last year and Russia prompted concerns among both Democratic and Republican lawmakers, with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham saying Trump could be wading into “peril” by commenting on the probe.

“I would just say this with the president: There’s an ongoing criminal investigation,” Graham said on Face the Nation. “You tweet and comment regarding ongoing criminal investigations at your own peril.”

Trump on Sunday morning said on Twitter that he never asked former FBI director James Comey to stop investigating Michael Flynn, the president’s former national security adviser — a statement at odds with an account Comey himself has given.

That tweet followed one on Saturday in which Trump said: “I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI.”

Legal experts and some Democratic lawmakers said if Trump knew Flynn lied to the FBI and then pressured Comey not to investigate him, that it could bolster a charge of obstruction of justice.

Trump’s attorney, John Dowd, said on Sunday that he had drafted the tweet and made “a mistake” when he composed it.

“The mistake was I should have put the lying to the FBI in a separate line referencing his plea,” Dowd said. “Instead, I put it together and it made all you guys go crazy.”

Dowd said the first time Trump knew that Flynn lied to the FBI was when he was charged.

Dowd also clouded the issue by saying that then-acting US attorney general Sally Yates in January informed White House counsel Don McGahn that Flynn told FBI agents the same thing he told Pence, and that McGahn reported his conversation with Yates to Trump.

He said Yates did not characterize Flynn’s conduct as a legal violation.

Dowd said it was the first and last time he would craft a tweet for the president.

Yates did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment and a lawyer for McGahn did not respond to requests for comment.

The White House also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said she believed the indictments in the investigation so far and Trump’s “continual tweets” pointed toward an obstruction of justice case.

“I see it most importantly in what happened with the firing of director Comey, and it is my belief that that is directly because he did not agree to lift the cloud of the Russia investigation. That’s obstruction of justice,” Feinstein said on Meet the Press.

“The president knew he [Flynn] had lied to the FBI, which means that when he talked to the FBI director and asked him to effectively drop this case; he knew that Flynn had committed a federal crime,” Adam Schiff, senior Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said on This Week.

“I never asked Comey to stop investigating Flynn. Just more Fake News covering another Comey lie!” Trump said on Twitter on Sunday.

Graham criticized Comey, saying he believed the former FBI director made some “very, very wrong” decisions during his tenure, but Graham also said Trump should be careful about his tweets.

“I’d be careful if I were you,” Graham said. “I’d watch this.”

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