“I feel badly for Gen. Flynn. I feel very badly,” the president told reporters outside the White House on Monday morning. “He’s led a very strong life, and I feel very badly. I will say this, Hillary Clinton lied many times to the FBI and nothing happened to her. Flynn lied, and they destroyed his life. I think it’s a shame.”
Trump continued: “Flynn lied, and it’s like — it ruined his life. It’s very unfair.”
Flynn resigned as national security advisor in February after he reportedly misled Vice President Mike Pence on discussing Russian sanctions with the Russian Ambassador to the U.S. On Friday, Flynn pleaded guilty to charges that he lied to the FBI during a January 2017 interview.
According to the Associated Press, court documents show that Flynn will admit to making false statements about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. while Trump was president-elect. The move makes Flynn the first Trump White House official to plead guilty so far in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election.
The Associated Press, The Washington Post and The Hill all reported that prosecutors indicated in court that Flynn was acting under instructions from at least one senior Trump transition official while dealing with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
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According to the Post, prosecutor Brandon L. Van Grack said in court that “a very senior member of the transition team directed” Flynn to get in touch with Kislyak at one point. Flynn also allegedly “called a senior official of the Trump team at Mar-a-Lago” in regards to a United Nations resolution that Flynn had discussed with Kislyak.
Flynn released a statement obtained by PEOPLE on Friday saying he’s cooperating with Mueller’s office because it’s in the “best interests of my family and of our country.”
“After over 33 years of military service to our country, including nearly five years in combat away from my family, and then my decision to continue to serve the United States, it has been extraordinarily painful to endure these many months of false accusations of “treason” and other outrageous acts. Such false accusations are contrary to everything I have ever done and stood for. But I recognize that the actions I acknowledged in court today were wrong, and, through my faith in God, I am working to set things right. My guilty plea and agreement to cooperate with the Special Counsel’s Office reflect a decision I made in the best interests of my family and of our country. I accept full responsibility for my actions,” the statement read in full.
White House lawyer Ty Cobb also responded to Flynn’s guilty plea, stating in part, per the Washington Post, that “The false statements involved mirror the false statements to White House officials which resulted in his resignation in February of this year. Nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn.”