Donald Trump waited 10 long months for the vindication of his first legacy-boosting win on Capitol Hill — the Senate vote on tax reform. But his triumph, when it came, was tainted by his worst moment as President –the plea deal ensnaring fired national security adviser Michael Flynn that epitomizes Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s relentless march closer to the Oval Office.
In recent days, the strands that define this political era of incredulity and turmoil, including the tax bill, the Russia investigation and the escalating threat of war with North Korea, have come together at a frenetic moment that will shape the environment ahead of the midterm elections next November, but also the 45th President’s place in histor
Republican efforts to finally get the tax bill to Trump’s desk by the end of the year coincide with an ominous turn of the Mueller probe after Flynn became the fourth Trump associate to be charged, raising the possibility he could testify against the President, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and son Donald Trump Jr.
One of the key questions following Mueller’s strike against Flynn on Friday was how Trump would react. Predictably, the President exploded on Twitter, denying wrongdoing, slamming his own FBI and casting doubt on whether justice would be served by Mueller’s investigation.
And it all backfired, adding to the impression that Trump is often his own worst political enemy and suggesting that Mueller is sowing panic in the White House and undercutting the notion that the President’s incessant tweeting is the secret of his success.
Trump worsened the fallout from the Flynn plea with a tweet from his account on Saturday that said he fired his former close aide earlier this year because he had lied to Vice President Mike Pence and the FBI over conversations with Russian officials. The comment set off a political firestorm and raised the question of whether he had effectively and inadvertently admitted to obstructing justice.
If Trump knew that Flynn had lied to the FBI when he asked James Comey in February, by the former FBI director’s own account, to go easy on his fired national security adviser, he could be seen as advocating a cover-up of a crime.
Trump lawyer John Dowd eventually insisted that he, and not Trump, had written the tweet.
CNN legal analyst Michael Zeldin said Sunday that Dowd would have tweeted in the first place only if Trump had asked him to do so, or he had made a “terrible mistake.”
“It did create a huge mess for the President as a consequence of it,” said Zeldin, who said he did not believe it was possible that Trump knew Flynn lied to the FBI when he fired him.