WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump expressed sympathy Monday for Michael Flynn and called treatment of his former national security adviser “very unfair” compared with that of Hillary Clinton.
“I feel badly for General Flynn. I feel very badly. He’s led a very strong life,” Trump told reporters at the White House.
“Hillary Clinton lied many times to the FBI. Nothing happened to her,” the president said. “Flynn lied and they destroyed his life. I think it’s a shame.”
The remarks were his latest defense of Flynn, who pleaded guilty Friday to lying to the FBI. They represented his latest criticism of Clinton, who was investigated for her use of a private email server during her time as Secretary of State.
Clinton, a Democrat who lost to Trump in the 2016 presidential election, spoke to the FBI in early July 2016, but did not do so under oath, according to then-FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before a House panel later that month.
There was “no basis” to conclude she had lied, Comey said.
Flynn pleaded guilty to lying about his contacts with a Russian ambassador and is cooperating in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Kremlin meddling in the 2016 election.
The Kremlin said Flynn’s conversations with Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak did not influence Russian President Vladimir Putin’s response to sanctions imposed by former president Barack Obama, The Associated Press said.
Trump appeared to acknowledge in a tweet Saturday that he knew when he fired Flynn that the adviser had lied to the FBI as well as Vice President Mike Pence.
Trump’s personal lawyer John Dowd said he drafted the tweet. Dowd told news website Axios that, under the Constitution, the “President cannot obstruct justice.”
Democratic lawmakers and other critics have questioned whether Trump knew Flynn lied to the FBI when he allegedly asked Comey to drop the FBI’s probe into Flynn.
Later Monday, in a trip to Salt Lake City, Utah, Trump signed a proclamation to reduce the sizes of two national monuments, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, and roll back protections he characterized as federal overreach.
“Some people think that the natural resources of Utah should be controlled by a small handful of very distant bureaucrats located in Washington,” he said. “They’re wrong.”
The top four Democrats on Capitol Hill, including Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), jointly condemned the act.
“Many of these are sacred land to Native Americans, and they will now be put at risk of desecration and looting,” they said. “We must not allow this Administration to dismantle the protections that have been built for more than a century since Congress passed the Antiquities Act in 1906.”
Leaders of tribes, including the Hopi and Navajo, called the move illegal and disrespectful to their cultures.