FLYNN, YATES, COMEY AND TRUMP'S WEEKEND TWEETS
President Trump's tweets over the weekend have raised questions about his firing of both national security adviser Michael Flynn and FBI director James Comey. On Saturday, Trump's account tweeted that he was forced to fire Flynn "because [Flynn] lied to the Vice President and the FBI." Previously, Trump had only cited Flynn's lying to Vice President Pence as the reason for his termination. The tweet implied that Trump knew Flynn had lied to the FBI when he was fired, but failed to disclose this information. After Flynn's firing, Trump allegedly continued to request that then-Director Comey drop the investigation into Flynn's Russian ties, thus opening him up to a possible obstruction of justice charge.
Trump's lawyer, John Dowd, has since claimed to have written the tweet on Trump's behalf, and explained that it was just poorly worded. On Sunday, Trump once again tweeted about the case, claiming that he "never asked Comey to stop investigating Flynn."
This puts the actions of then-acting attorney general Sally Yates into the spotlight once more. Dowd claims that Yates told White House counsel Donald McGahn that Flynn gave identical accounts of his conversations with Russian agents to both the Vice President and the FBI, and that the Justice Department at the time did not believe Flynn was lying. Unnamed sources familiar with Yates' actions deny that she ever shared information with the White House about the FBI's investigation into Flynn.
In an interview with Axios, posted Monday, Dowd makes the case that, because he is already the "chief law enforcement officer" under the Constitution's Article II, the President can not legally obstruct justice. Dowd argues that Trump, as President, "has every right to express his view of any case." He goes on to deny that the Saturday tweet does, in fact, admit to obstruction, calling that assertion "ignorant and arrogant." CNN notes that a similar claim - that the President is immune from obstruction of justice charges - was once forwarded by the Nixon administration during the Watergate scandal. Aaron Blake of the Washington Post spoke to a number of legal experts who dispute this interpretation of Article II. In Bloomberg, Noah Feldman argues that - regardless - a tweet should be considered a legal confession.
In other tweets and statements over the weekend, Trump continued defending Flynn, while accusing the FBI of a double standard in its investigation of Hillary Clinton. He told reporters at the White House that Clinton was not pursued even though she "lied many times to the FBI," while Flynn's life is being destroyed over his actions. In July of 2016, then-Director Comey denied that the FBI had any evidence Clinton had lied to them.
On Sunday, the President tweeted that the reputation of the FBI is "in tatters - worst in history!" Both Comey and Yates personally responded to the tweet by defending the bureau, as did former attorney general Eric Holder. Comey said "I want the American people to know this truth: The FBI is honest. The FBI is strong. And the FBI is, and always will be, independent."