President Trump said Monday that he feels “very badly” for his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, because his false statements to the FBI have “ruined his life.”
Trump, who tweeted over the weekend that he fired Flynn from his White House job because he had lied to the FBI as well as to Vice President Pence, told reporters Monday morning that Flynn's undoing was “a shame” and “very unfair.”
“I feel badly for General Flynn,” Trump said on the South Lawn of the White House, as he boarded Marine One ahead of a trip to Utah. “I feel very badly. He's led a very strong life, and I feel very badly.”
Trump tried to equate Flynn's actions with those of his 2016 campaign opponent, Hillary Clinton, although the former Democratic presidential nominee has not been charged with lying to the FBI.
“I will say this: Hillary Clinton lied many times to the FBI,” Trump said. “Nothing happened to her. Flynn lied, and they destroyed his life. I think it's a shame. Hillary Clinton, on the 4th of July weekend, went to the FBI, not under oath. It was the most incredible thing anyone's ever seen. She lied many times. Nothing happened to her. Flynn lied, and it's like they ruined his life. It's very unfair.”
Trump was referencing Clinton's closed-door interview with the FBI in July 2016, as part of the bureau's investigation into her use of a private email server as secretary of state.
Although the FBI's probe and the circumstances of Clinton's interview have drawn criticism, Clinton has not been charged with providing false statements to the bureau. White House spokesmen did not immediately respond to a request to substantiate Trump's allegation that she had “lied many times” to the FBI.
Trump's Monday morning appearance before reporters was brief. He did not respond to shouted questions from journalists about when he first found out that Flynn lied to the FBI, nor did he answer queries about his endorsement of Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, who stands accused of making unwanted sexual advances on teenage girls when he was in his 30s.
Flynn pleaded guilty Friday to lying to the FBI about his contacts with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Flynn said he had agreed to cooperate with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's investigation of Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election, a wide-ranging probe that includes possible coordination with the Trump campaign as well as possible obstruction of justice by the now-president.