Of tarmacs, tweets, and obstruction
In the summer of 2016, Bill Clinton held a (supposed to be) secret meeting with US Attorney General Loretta Lynch on an airport tarmac at a time when the FBI and Justice Department were investigating his wife for her use of a private email server during her time as Secretary of State.
When news of the meeting broke, I was pissed. I still am. A former president meeting in secret with a sitting AG in charge of investigating his wife is not ok. I don't care what they discussed (though their claim of talking about grandchildren is laughable). That is just something you do not do.
Fast forward to earlier today. Actually, let’s start with yesterday, when news broke that Michael Flynn was prepared to plead guilty to lying to the FBI about meeting with Russian diplomats after the election but before Donald Trump took office. As with Paul Manafort before him, the charges Flynn was facing had nothing to do with the election or tampering. They revolved around meetings after the election — hardly the time to start conspiring to throw an election that had already taken place.
Anyway, it looked like a whole lot of nothing once again, until the president decided to send the following tweet earlier today.
To Trump, the tweet seemed innocent enough. He was basically bragging that — once again — he had taken decisive action when wrongdoing occurred, so the people with pitchforks and torches (not the tiki kind favored by some very good people, mind you) should return to the village and their homes.
But in amongst his self-congratulatory speak, Trump revealed information he would have been wiser to keep to himself. At the time Trump had fired Flynn, the official reason given was lying to the Vice President. In today’s self-flagellation, Trump cited knowledge of Flynn’s lying to the FBI as part of the reason for the firing.
That’s right. The president acknowledged that he knew his National Security Advisor had committed a felony but had not turned him over for prosecution. In fact, not long after the firing, he had met with his FBI director and asked him to go easy on Flynn. He would later fire that same FBI director (who had refused the president’s request) and cite thoughts of that investigation as playing a part in that decision.
In less than 280 characters — doing something he does dozens of times a day — the President of the United States admitted to obstruction of justice. Nay, he didn’t just admit to it. He bragged about it like it was something to be admired.
I will freely admit that I have no love for our current commander in chief. I will further acknowledge that his use of Twitter to admit to a crime makes me happy inside. I was pissed off earlier this week when Twitter took no action against his account after he retweeted fake videos from a far-right hate group. Now I’m glad they didn’t.
Just as Bill Clinton obstructed justice on a tarmac in 2016, Donald Trump did the same in February of this year. I’m certainly not naive enough to think these two were the only such incidents involving a president. I’m sure it happens all the time. The difference is that Clinton (and other former presidents) had the good sense not to brag about it. Trump doesn’t.