Trump: “FBI’s reputation is in Tatters – worst in History!”

Developments on Day 318 of the Trump Administration:

See also VideoCast with CNN: Trump’s Possible Obstruction of Justice, Advisor’s Acknowledgement of Russian Intervention

Trump Lashes Out after Flynn Plea and Stumble Over Obstruction of Justice

Under increasing pressure over the Trump-Russia investigation, Donald Trump lashes out at the FBI and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team in a series of tweets, claiming the agency is “in tatters”.

On Friday, the White House was rocked by the guilty plea of Michael Flynn — former senior Trump campaign official and then National Security Advisor — to lying to investigators over his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak in December 2016. Flynn’s cooperation with Mueller and the FBI was also confirmed, raising the prospect of key documents and testimony against those in Trump’s inner circle, including his son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner.

Court records established that Flynn had not acted alone. Instead, Kushner had called him before Flynn’s December 22 conversation with Kislyak, seeking Russian cooperation to block a UN resolution against Israeli settlement in Palestine’s West Bank. A week later, before Flynn’s five calls with Kislyak about President Obama’s new sanctions on Moscow over Russia’s election interference, the advisor was in contact with Trump advisor K.T. McFarland, who may have been passing on instructions from others.

On Saturday, Trump only compounded his difficulties when he made his first Twitter reaction to Flynn’s plea, saying that he knew the advisor had lied to the FBI when Flynn was finally dismissed on February 14. The tweet risked begin read as an admission of obstruction of justice, since FBI Director James Comey has said under oath that Trump asked him the next day to drop the FBI investigation into Flynn.

A further complication was introduced when a “senior administration official” told media that the compromising tweet was drafted by White House lawyer John Dowd. Legal analysts noted yesterday that the language was not that of a professional attorney, raising the possibility that Dowd was being put up as a scapegoat for Trump’s error.

On Sunday before dawn, Trump tried to escape the bind by declaring:

He then went on the offensive against the FBI by retweeting a call for FBI Director Christopher Wray to “clean house” and adding his own thoughts:

Trump’s initial, garbled tweet referred to Mueller’s reassignment of FBI agent Peter Strzok from his team, amid investigation of Strzok’s private text messages to an FBI lawyer which allegedly criticized Trump during the 2016 campaign.

In his final tweet of the day, Trump tried once to tarnish Mueller’s inquiry by raising the matter:

Trump has attacked US agencies since late 2016 over the Russia investigation, comparing CIA staff to Nazis, accusing FBI Director Comey — whom he fired in May — of lying, and denouncing other senior FBI officials. On Saturday, he previewed yesterday’s barrage by assailing the Justice Department:

“Men and Women of FBI Deserve Better”

Former officials of the Obama and Trump Administrations quickly rallied around the FBI. Comey, who is quoting aphorisms on his Twitter account as a running commentary on Trump, recalled his testimony to a Congressional committee:

Sally Yates, who warned the White House of Flynn’s deception of the FBI just before she was dismissed as Acting Attorney General in late January, tweeted:

And Eric Holder, Attorney General under Barack Obama, responded, “You’ll find integrity and honesty at FBI headquarters and not at 1600 Penn Ave [the White House] right now.”