Update: This is how the White House is “explaining” this (via WaPo):
Trump’s lawyer John Dowd drafted the president’s tweet, according to two people familiar with the twitter message. Its authorship could reduce how significantly it communicates anything about when the president knew that Flynn had lied to the FBI, but also raises questions about the public relations strategy of the president’s chief lawyer.
Two people close to the administration described the tweet simply as sloppy and unfortunate.
You know, at first glance, Trump’s opening salvo in what will almost certainly be a barrage of Michael Flynn tweets over the coming weeks seems some semblance of rational:
The capitalization is correct. There’s no unnecessary punctuation save the obligatory exclamation point. And it would appear that this was vetted by someone because it’s definitely not what he would have tweeted if he had been left to his own devices.
But maybe it wasn’t vetted.
Because when you think about it for a minute, it kind of seems like he just snitched on himself to 44 million people.
What that looks like is an admission that he knew Michael Flynn had lied to the FBI when he pressured James Comey to drop the investigation. Recall that on February 14, Trump said the following to then-Director Comey:
The President then returned to the topic of Mike Flynn, saying, “He is a good guy and has been through a lot.” He repeated that Flynn hadn’t done anything wrong on his calls with the Russians, but had misled the Vice President. He then said, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.” I replied only that “he is a good guy.” (In fact, I had a positive experience dealing with Mike Flynn when he was a colleague as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency at the beginning of my term at FBI.) I did not say I would “let this go.”
Again: if he knew Flynn had lied to the FBI when he asked Comey to “let it go,” well then that’s obstruction. Almost unequivocally.
“Trump told reporters at the time that he had been forced to fire Flynn because he had misled Vice President Mike Pence about those conversations, but the White House gave no indication at the time that it knew Flynn had lied to the FBI in a January interview about those conversations — a federal crime that Flynn pleaded guilty to on Friday,” BI’s Natasha Bertrand reminds you, before adding that “Trump’s tweet on Saturday appears to indicate that Trump was aware Flynn had lied to the FBI when he departed the administration in February.”
“President Donald Trump on Saturday made his first public comments about his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn after Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about speaking with Russian officials, suggesting for the first time that Trump knew Flynn had lied to the bureau at the time Flynn was fired,” NBC reports, picking up on the same thing.
Here’s former FBI counterintelligence agent Asha Rangappa
I think if the President knew Flynn had done anything illegal at the time he asked Comey to drop investigation, then yes, it strengthens the [obstruction] case.
I think it also has to be looked at in the context of both him and others on the campaign simultaneously and blanketly denying any contacts with Russia, when the statement of facts Flynn pled to clearly shows the opposite.
Make no mistake, a whole lot of people have noticed this:
This is a pretty substantial confession to essential knowledge elements of an obstruction of justice charge. https://t.co/UpQfilPVfJ
— Susan Hennessey (@Susan_Hennessey) December 2, 2017
We now have a winner for most self destructive tweet in history! A confession to obstruction of justice. Trump urged Comey to let Flynn go knowing Flynn was guilty. https://t.co/P4qGWMffJd
— Lawrence O'Donnell (@Lawrence) December 2, 2017
[Mueller turns off lights, closes door at special counsel’s office]
“Alright boys, our work here is done.” https://t.co/aOC0QTnT43
— Chris Cillizza (@CillizzaCNN) December 2, 2017
If the President now acknowledges he knew Flynn lied to the FBI when he fired him, Trump’s conversation with Comey, when he asked him to back off Flynn, has a new legal significance. https://t.co/lNrDMzQKEp
— Shane Harris (@shaneharris) December 2, 2017
Oh my god, he just admitted to obstruction of justice. If Trump knew Flynn lied to the FBI when he asked Comey to let it go, then there is your case. https://t.co/c6Wtd0TfzW
— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) December 2, 2017
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) December 2, 2017
Trump saying he knew Flynn lied to the FBI means that Trump tried to press Comey into dropping an investigation into a serious crime. More possible fodder for Mueller’s obstruction of justice investigation. https://t.co/99m732V5BT
— Brian Klaas (@brianklaas) December 2, 2017
So Trump says he knew Flynn lied to the FBI when he asked Comey to let go of the Flynn investigation. Good of him to keep commenting on the obstruction of justice investigation https://t.co/AzK1Ow1QUp
— Ben Rhodes (@brhodes) December 2, 2017
I’m no lawyer, but a friend of mine who’s an excellent attorney says that @realDonaldTrump just admitted to obstruction of justice – and with millions of Americans as witnesses.
— Jon Cooper 🌊 (@joncoopertweets) December 2, 2017
MAJOR BREAKING NEWS: President Trump Accidentally Admits on Twitter to Committing Obstruction of Justice
(The dates and statements check out. This analysis from MSNBC is correct.) https://t.co/Rcd5Eb0gUD
— Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson) December 2, 2017
And oh the poetic justice if a Saturday tweet is what finally does Trump in…