Washington: US President Donald Trump tweeted on Saturday that he sacked his former aide Michael T. Flynn for lying to Vice President Mike Pence and FBI about his contacts with Russian ambassador in Washington Sergei Kislyak during the transition after presidential elections last year.
But a day after Flynn was fired in February, Trump tried to persuade FBI chief James Comey to bury the case. He fired him in May for refusing to end the probe. Trump’s actions could be considered obstruction of justice.
His tweet came a day after Flynn entered a plea deal for lesser charges and agreed to cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller leading the investigation into Russia’s alleged interference in US presidential elections. Trump said he has nothing to hide and Flynn’s actions as a member of his transition team “were lawful”.
New York Times says emails of transition officials, interviews and documents filed on Friday question White House claims that Flynn acted alone on Russia.
In one email, senior adviser KT McFarland said Russia had “just thrown the US election to Trump”.
A White House lawyer told the paper that McFarland had meant only that the Democrats were portraying it that way.
The emails show how the transitional team strategized after learning that President Barack Obama would expel 35 Russian diplomats.
As part of the outreach, McFarland wrote, Flynn would be speaking with the Russian ambassador hours after Obama’s sanctions were announced. In an interview to the paper, Ty Cobb, the White House lawyer, said the presidential transition guide specifically encourages contact with and outreach to foreign dignitaries.
It is said that Flynn was directed to make contact with Russian officials by a “very senior member” of the Trump transition team.
Reports suggest the member may be Jared Kushner, Trump’s adviser and son-in-law. Flynn told FBI that he discussed Russia’s response to US sanctions and a UN Security Council resolution on Israel.