(CBSNEWS) – President Trump spoke publicly Saturday morning for the first time since his former national security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI on Friday, saying he “had to fire” Flynn because he lied to Vice President Mike Pence and the FBI.
Flynn misled Pence about his contact with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and later, lied to the FBI about that contact in a Jan. 24 interview, as he pleaded guilty in federal court on Friday. But the president’s tweet Saturday president raises the question of whether he was aware Flynn lied to the FBI before firing him on Feb. 13. Mr. Trump insisted, “There was nothing to hide!”
Former FBI Director James Comey has said that the president asked him to drop the investigation into Flynn the day after Flynn was ousted, on Feb. 14.
On Saturday, Mr. Trump, asked whether the Flynn guilty plea worried him Saturday morning, emphasized there was “no collusion.”
“What has been shown is no collusion, no collusion,” Mr. Trump said, responding to a reporter’s question about whether the Flynn plea worries him before pivoting to a major tax bill the Senate passed just before 2 a.m. Saturday. “There’s been absolutely no collusion, so we’re very happy. And frankly last night was one of the big nights.”
“We’ll see what happens,” added the president, who is on his way to New York for a series of fundraisers.
But prosecutors in Flynn’s case indicated that other high-level Trump associates were at least aware of Flynn’s contacts with the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
CBS News Chief White House correspondent Major Garrett reports sources with knowledge of the situation say top White House aide Jared Kushner was the “very senior” official who spoke with Flynn on Dec. 22 of last year about a pending U.N. Security Council debate vote on Israeli settlements. The sources with knowledge of the situation also told CBS News that K.T. McFarland was the “senior official” on the Presidential Transition Team (PTT) who spoke to Flynn in Mar-a-Lago on Dec. 29 about Russian sanctions and possible Russian retaliation.