Last night, President Trump spoke with Lester Holt in an interview for NBC News. It’s truly a jaw-dropping conversation for a number of reasons, but there’s one important lie that everyone seems to have missed. Trump said that he didn’t know Michael Flynn in 2015. This simply isn’t true.
Lester Holt: Did you know that [Flynn] had received payments from the Russian government, that he had received payments from the Turkish government?
Donald Trump: No, but Obama perhaps knew, because he had clearance from the Obama administration, and this is something they never want to report. He had clearance from the Obama administration—the highest clearance you can have. And I think it’s a very unfair thing that the media doesn’t talk about that. You know, you’re talking about 2015. I don’t know that I knew him in 2015.
Putting aside for a minute the fact that Obama fired Flynn and that Obama even advised Trump not to hire him, it’s important to recognize that Trump is lying about not knowing Flynn in 2015.
In fact, Donald Trump first met with Michael Flynn in August of 2015, just two months after Trump announced he’d be running for president. But you don’t have to take my word for it. We know Trump met with Flynn in August of 2015 because Flynn told us.
From the February 27, 2017 issue of the New Yorker:
In August, 2015, Flynn went to New York to meet Trump for the first time. They were scheduled to talk for thirty minutes; the conversation lasted ninety. Flynn was deeply impressed. “I knew he was going to be the President of the United States,” he told me.
So let’s get this timeline straight.
- August 2014: Flynn is ousted by Obama at the Defense Intelligence Agency.
- June 2015: Trump announces his plan to run for president.
- August 2015: Trump meets with Flynn for an hour and a half at Trump Tower.
- December 2015: Flynn is paid by the Russian government to speak at a gala in Moscow and is seated at the same table as Vladimir Putin.
- February 2016: Flynn starts acting as an informal policy advisor to the Trump campaign.
Got all that? Trump said in the interview last night that he didn’t think he knew Flynn in 2015. But he definitely did. Not only that, but by early 2016, Trump was being advised by Flynn on foreign policy matters during the campaign.
You really have to watch the entire interview from last night, embedded above. It’s so bizarre, not least because Trump explained that he was going to fire FBI Director James Comey regardless of any recommendation made by the Justice Department. That directly contradicts two days of claims by his communications team.
Not to mention the fact that Trump claims Comey asked for the two of them to have dinner, a meeting at which Trump asked if he was under investigation by the FBI. Trump says that Comey assured him that he was not. President Trump also claims that Comey told him over the phone on two other occasions that he wasn’t under investigation.
Needless to say, if Trump’s story is true, it’s all highly illegal and unethical for a sitting president to ask the head of the FBI if he’s under investigation. There’s no way to explain this one away.
If Trump survives the fallout from this week—between firing the man who was leading the investigation against him to the poor optics of meeting with Russian officials the very next day—it’s safe to say that he’s going to serve his full term as president.
It doesn’t get much worse than this for Trump. But he seems to be lying his way through it with little resistance from the only people who can do anything about it: Congressional Republicans.