Trump Tuesday: What did he know about Flynn? When did he know it?
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WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump on Tuesday confronts the first major crisis of his less-than-a-month old administration: the late night Monday resignation of Michael Flynn as national security adviser, who quit after misleading Vice President Mike Pence about his conversation with the Russian ambassador to the U.S.
Today’s big question borrows a phrase from President Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal: What did the President know, and when did he know it? As we learned during Watergate, which resulted in Nixon’s resignation, the cover-up is worse than the crime.
Trump in a Twitter post tried to change the subject to leaks – not the underlying substance – that Flynn lied to Pence.
“The real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington? Will these leaks be happening as I deal on N.Korea etc?” 8:28 a.m. Eastern time.
Backstory: Trump is concerned about leaks that fueled stories about Flynn. Flynn quit “after The Washington Post reported Monday that the Justice Department had warned the White House last month that Flynn had so mischaracterized his communications with the Russian diplomat that he might be vulnerable to blackmail by Moscow.”
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer is scheduled to hold a must-watch briefing at 1 p.m. Eastern time.
Trump sent his counselor, Kellyanne Conway out on the morning TV shows before he posted his first Tweet of the day.
“I think misleading the vice president really was the key here,” Conway told NBC “Today Show” host Matt Lauer.
“And I spoke with the president this morning, he asked me to speak on his behalf and to reiterate that Mike Flynn had resigned.”
After Conway said it was only on Monday that “the situation had become unsustainable,” an incredulous Lauer brought up that the Trump White House was warned last month by the Justice Department — by acting Attorney General Sally Yates who would go on to quit over the travel ban — that Flynn had misled them and was subject to blackmail by the Russians.
I was at the White House on Monday and saw how Spicer and Conway were scrambling, giving various explanations during the afternoon about Flynn’s status. Conway was in the White House briefing room telling MSNBC Flynn had the full confidence of Trump.
Contrast that to Spicer, reading a statement to a pack of reporters staking out his office, that the “the president is evaluating the situation” about Flynn.
Hours later, Flynn was jettisoned.
To watch for today: Will Republicans in Congress speak out? Will there be any congressional probes of the Flynn breach?
By the way, did Flynn not know his phone call was tapped? Did he not realize the intel capacity of the U.S.?
Trump today: In the morning Trump holds a parent-teacher conference “listening session.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, iced out so far in the Trump White House, brings his wife to the White House to lunch with Trump.
Later, he will meet with Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Seizing on the Flynn resignation, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi D-Calif. and other top House Democrats hold a 12:30 p.m. Eastern time presser to react to it and to step up their call for the FBI to “accelerate” their probe of ties between Trump and Russia.